Posted by: Kerry & Jim | 24 June 2013

Another very interesting lunch & local industry

Last week we were invited to lunch at the lovely Maria and Raffael’s who live in La Villa, the main town of Bagni di Lucca, when they are here in Italy. Their home is in San Sebastián in Spain but they spend quite a bit of their time here.

Together with Debra we enjoyed a very delicious lunch with fascinating conversation ranging from their years living in Argentina and on the Gold Coast, their extensive travel experiences and some Spanish & Italian history. Maria is descended from spanish nobility and her family sort refuge in Argentina during the Franco regime. Raffael was born in Italy and also has links to history. In the mid 1400’s his forefather was assassinated by Pope Paul II’s brother as his army of 3,000 men was seen as a threat to the papacy. It makes them a most interesting and enjoyable couple to converse with.


Their house is on the Lima River and Raffael is a keen fisherman so we went down to see his favourite fishing ledge. He told us that when the trout are running you can see them from the living room window.


Fascinating to hear all their stories.

After lunch Maria had organised a visit to their neighbours workshop so Debra could write a story on them for her Bagni di Lucca blog. “”

The small three story building houses one of the last remaining family run producers of religious and nativity alabastrine plaster statues in the Lucca region. The area was famous for these statues in years gone by and Simone Fiori carries on the family tradition at Arte Barsanti which was established by his great grandfather in 1900. He sells his statues world wide and both John Paul II and the Queen Mother owned pieces produced by him.

He and his Uncle Carmelo were very proud and keen to show us their workshop and some of the skills involved in producing their statues.


Moulds are poured, baked, trimmed and then hand painted, all by Simone.

And some spare parts are on hand.

The place has many signs of age and history.

As a parting gift we were very lucky to receive a nativity setting, called a presepe here in Italy, from Simone which we will treasure. It isn’t very often you get the opportunity to have such an interesting day!



  1. I love your blogs, this was a very special days for you both, we leave tomorrow see you in Sestri in a couple of weeks.



    • Happy holidays. Time to relax. Enjoy the Tour de France and we will see you soon.

  2. The Nativity Scene really appealed to me also the Stations of the Cross.
    Love Robin

    • They were beautifully crafted Robin.

  3. Its great to hear that you are engaging with some interesting people and enjoying lunch with a nice red. Remember me back here at home , our early morning coffee conversations are still loud, uncoordinated and repeat regularly the previous Saturdays discussions on sport to politics. OMG you will have some adjustment to make on return. CTB

    • Yes, meeting some very nice people and enjoying hearing their stories.

  4. Experiences like these can not be valued and the memories never spent.

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