The Lima Valley

The best location for outdoor sports in the heart of Tuscany

The Rockonda centre is in the Lima Valley, close to Bagni di Lucca. Our activities take place on the river Lima. Discover this amazing area of unspoilt natural beauty!

THE LIMA RIVER, A TOP DESTINATION FOR WATER SPORTS IN TUSCANY

The Lima river (or just ‘The Lima’ as we locals call it) begins in the Sestaione valley in the Apennines, between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. Flowing down the mountains, over time it has carved a stunning landscape – including strikingly beautiful canyons.

The river crosses the town of Bagni di Lucca Terme and flows into the Serchio, another river with its source in the Apennines, which runs through nearby Garfagnana and across most of the province of Lucca. The river is an important element of the area’s history, environment and way of life.

A RIVER OF ENERGY

In the past, the Lima river was a key driving force of human activity in the valley. It has been used for irrigation in farmland, and to power mills, paper factories and hydroelectric installations.

Today it has a key role in the area’s tourism industry, offering locations for holidays or weekend breaks, ideal for nature lovers or to try water sports such as canoeing, rafting, kayaking, water trekking, SUP (Stand Up Paddle boarding) and fishing.

For nature lovers

For those looking for a relaxing experience (or for less sporty types!) the river Lima is also ideal for swimming and offers a truly stunning backdrop. It has splendid natural pools, impressive rocks, smooth pebbles and a variety of depths.

Where the river is shallower, the water flows faster between the rocks. Downstream from these areas the river opens out and has a range of features – rapids, drops and also sections with calmer water.

This diversity provides a range of locations for all types of activity, from the most adrenaline-filled to the most relaxing.

The Lima Valley is becoming an ever more popular location for water sports enthusiasts and outdoor activities. The Lima is known for its crystal clear water and attracts divers from all over the world.

The Lima Valley: the heart of Tuscany

Tuscany is a stunning region with beautiful countryside. The Lima Valley is, however, still a relatively undiscovered gem. The river offers a range of activities and the area is full of walking and riding trails. It’s very close to Abetone, another great location for outdoor activities.

The province of Lucca offers a huge range of holiday destinations – the coast and hills of Versilia, the area around the City of Lucca, and the Garfagnana, to name a few. The area boasts medieval villages and stunning natural scenery. Many also choose to visit the famous nearby cities of Pisa or Florence. The Lima Valley is only a short journey away from all of these well-known destinations – between 20 minutes to just over an hour.

The Lima Valley – A Top Destination for Outdoor Activities

The Lima Valley is known as the outdoor sports valley, due to the range of activities available, as well as sports on the river.

This area of Tuscany is great for trekking, and has many mountain trails including the “Alta via dei Pastori” (Shepherd’s High Trail) which leads to an area called Prato Fiorito featuring rare plants and a unique landscape. This area was a favourite of the poet Lord Byron, who was a great fan of Tuscany and also loved Bagni di Lucca.

A trip to Orrido di Botri, one of the most majestic canyons in the whole of Italy, is another excellent choice of excursion.

A Weekend to explore the Lima Valley

Spend a few days here to discover the many historic locations, beautiful spots and hidden gems of the Lima Valley. Don’t forget to try some of the local delicacies and specialities!

The Thermal Baths at Bagni di Lucca

Tuscany has many thermal springs and both the Lima Valley and Bagni di Lucca are no exception. The spring water here has excellent properties and is rich in sulphur, bicarbonate and calcium.

The thermal baths at Bagni di Lucca have a very interesting history, and over the centuries have attracted royals and famous artists from all over the world. The town was an internationally renowned cultural hotspot and an important location in terms of its architecture. Many of the buildings dating from this era of opulence and splendour are still intact today.

This unique town, located in such picturesque natural surroundings, contributes to the Lima Valley’s unique, diverse heritage – which has something for everyone.

Bagni di Lucca’s Unique Architecture

Bagni di Lucca is full of surprises – the Museo dell’Impossibile (“Museum of the Impossible”) is a fine example – but the town’s architecture is particularly noteworthy.

You can find a mix of styles here which have accumulated over the centuries – a testament to its glorious past.

The casino in Bagni di Lucca was Italy’s first, and the oldest in Europe. According to many historians, it could even have been the first casino to ever exist.

Today, the historic casino is a museum of betting and gaming, and also has a modern gaming room with slot machines. It has a long and rich history, though, which is well worth investigating, stretching back over 700 years to around 1300.

Together, the casino and the thermal baths created economic abundance and prestige which attracted important individuals from across Europe. This flow of money and cultural diversity created a unique and visually striking destination, particularly considering its relatively small size and mountain location.

Trails in the Lima Valley – villages, churches and ancient fortresses

The area has many historic villages – especially in nearby Garfagnana – which are dotted across the landscape.

To name a few (there are many, many more!):

The Lima Valley is famous for its bridges, including the Ponte del Diavolo, or Devil’s bridge, crossing the via Francigena
The Lima Valley is famous for its picturesque villages along the banks of its rivers and lakes
The Lima Valley is close to the Garfagnana, which is full of medieval and Roman villages. It’s also famous for its culinary delicacies.

Montefegatesi is the highest hamlet of Bagni di Lucca and is perched on the mountain overlooking the Lima river. The village is small but has a rich history and medieval architecture which stands out against the distinctive colours of the mountain rock.

Borgo a Mozzano spreads out along the Via Francigena pilgrim route, and features many religious buildings as well as the fantastic Ponte del Diavolo (“Devil’s Bridge”).

Castelnuovo in Garfagnana is a beautiful village with numerous places to try the local delicacies.

Further north, at the foot of the Apuan mountains, Isola Santa is located on the shores of a lake surrounded by mountains and chestnut tree woodland. It’s a picturesque settlement and well worth a visit. Close by you can see the old Henraux marble quarry, revealing the impact of human activity on the mountain landscape.

The ex Henraux marble quarry is a unique location close to the Lima Valley and Abetone
Of Lombard origin, the San Cassiano di Controni church is the first documented church in the Lima Valley
Prato Fiorito is a mountainside with a distinctive landscape and rare plants

Several of these villages have long histories, such as Casoli with its medieval origins, or Vicopancellorum which still bears its Roman name, indicating the importance of breadmaking in the area.

The Garfagnana still has many castles and fortresses, such as the medieval Verrucole, which was the House of Este’s unconquerable military garrison for 400 years. Today, it has been restored and is open to the public.

There are also many picturesque churches dotted across the mountains with incredible views. Among these is San Cassiano di Controni, of Lombard origin, which is the first church documented in the Lima Valley. It has many bas-relief decorations and unique architectural details, with motifs featuring geometric patterns and images of plants.

Bridges of Lucchesia

The valley features many ancient bridges which provide crossing points for the various rivers including the Lima, the Serchio and others.

Some of the oldest bridges have Roman names – such as Ponte Nero and Ponte Maggio, which cross the Lima – originally called Ponts Major and Ponts Minor. The most famous bridge in the area is undoubtedly Ponte della Maddalena, commonly known as the Ponte del Diavolo (“Devil’s Bridge”), with its striking arches.

More recent constructions include the Ponte delle Catene (“Chain Bridge”), which was built in the 1800s and is incredibly modern for its era. It is still today an impressive achievement of architecture.

Explore the Lima Valley: stay at Val di Lima House