Autumn is the time to seize the opportunity for a unique experience available during these months and then again in spring, rafting in Garfagnana. During these seasons, the activity is made possible by the water levels in the Lima stream, a tributary of the Serchio River that runs through one of Tuscany’s most picturesque valleys. Garfagnana, adored by tourists as well as artists and writers, is an experience within itself, a dive into vibrant and pristine nature, perfect for those who love water, lush landscapes, and a dose of adrenaline.
The activity allows participants to tackle class 2 and 3 rapids, even those who have never rafted before, provided they are at least 16 years of age, with the only constraint being a weight limit of 100 kg (220 lbs).
Garfagnana, a timeless region in the shadow of the Apuan Alps.
The Serchio River is the most significant river in the Garfagnana area, which is rich in karstic watercourses that have carved out spectacular and deep canyons over the millennia. Overlooking the valleys are the Apuans, majestic mountains that, although not as tall as their northern sisters, are commonly called “Alps.” These grandiose mountains have shaped the natural and historical landscape of the entire area, unique in their special relationship between human and industrial presence and a close bond with nature.
A thousand hamlets peek from the heights, once bustling with activities related to marble and mineral extraction, livestock, and agriculture, and today partly repopulated after a long period of abandonment. In many of these places, somewhat frozen in time, writers and poets have chosen to find tranquility and inspiration.
Each one is characterized by a typical structure, a local craft production, and a story to tell, like Lucchio, the village that knew how to hide.
The Lima Strem, for the Blue Lagoon Lovers
The Lima Stream springs near Abetone and flows with its effervescent vitality to form a valley of the same name, creating pools, waterfalls, and ponds, before flowing into the Serchio River. It’s particularly famous for its clear and “refreshingly cool” water, forming pools filled with water emerging from the depths of the earth. Near the village of Cocciglia, a gorge of white limestone is formed, which the water has shaped over time, creating the thrilling Cocciglia Narrows. It’s here that a distinctive natural pool is found, characterized by the water’s intense and luminous color. Also, thanks to the small beach from which it’s easy to access the water, the “Blue Lagoon” from the movies is the image that inspires its nickname and gives a sense of just how worthwhile this enchanting rafting experience in Garfagnana is.
Among a thousand hamlets, Garfagnana’s “storytelling”.
The hamlets crossed by the Lima stream are countless, and all have magnificent stories and reasons for their particular location and structure to share.
Some are little stars, while others prefer to stay as hidden as possible from the tourist’s eye today, the enemy’s yesterday. Like the small Lucchio, about which few have heard, and that’s worth disturbing in its shyness. The village sits at an altitude of 780 meters, and its houses are literally set on a steep rock spur. Those who travel the roads below, long-important routes to reach Abetone and Bagni di Lucca, don’t notice it. You can only catch a glimpse of it, incredibly leaning and clinging to the rock, just before you arrive. I
n Lucchio, it’s said that farmers would hang a small bag on chickens so the eggs wouldn’t roll downhill!
Why this hidden position? In Lucchio, there is a fortress that probably dates back to the Lombard period. At the time and subsequently, when it was part of the possessions of Lucca, its strategic location made it an important bastion for controlling and defending the important communication routes below. Being unseen by those who crossed the valley with ill intentions could be crucial for defense.
This experience also includes paddling under the arches of a notorious bridge, the Devil’s Bridge at Borgo a Mozzano. The bridge’s distinctive architecture, with a hump of the famous “donkey’s back” particularly accentuated upwards, has led to some stories explaining its origin. One of the most famous sees the devil promising the disheartened architect, who was struggling, that he would have erected it in just one night. In exchange, however, the devil wanted the soul of the first person who would cross it. The builder agreed, but immediately regretted it and, together with the parish priest, decided to throw a piece of bread on the bridge to make a dog cross. The devil, angry, “distorted” the bridge into its characteristic shape.
Cove Photo by Tuscany People