More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

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More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by lancashire lass on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:40 am

Last night we went for our usual Friday night pizza to Mammo's in Bagni di Lucca and shock/horror!! Mammo's restaurant is for sale! Mammo and Sabrina have finally thrown in the towel. It has become impossible to continue due to lack of trade and taxes. They rent the restaurant from the Hotel Europa next door (which is also up for sale) so they are just selling the business, they have said they will continue until a buyer is found but i wonder if they will?

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:06 pm

Borghesi closed, so did the Circolo, now Mamo is for sale.  
I'm amazed.  I realise Sabrina and Mamo can't survive purely on the tourist trade, but the Italians do eat out.  
Go to I Foiletti and its full of Italians.  I'm so sorry for Sabrina and Mamo, they're both lovely people and work hard.  Many a night (straight from the pool) we've gone for Vongole, Pizza Tagliata, Zuppa de Cozze - you name it we've had it.  It costs us €100 a time but its worth it. 
What a shame.  Sounds like Del Sonno is going to be very busy, if not impossible to get into.There's I Foiletti, the place down the road from it Il Buongusteria (?) Will definitely have an effect on the BDL 'offer'

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Flip on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:45 pm

I think Mamo, suffered because of it's location  on that corner as it is easy to miss as you go by. A great shame and another nail in the Commerce of BDLs Coffin.
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:52 pm

Yep, I think you're right there Flip.  I've been in there eating and seen many a car slow down then drive on.  Can't help but perhaps a move over the road to the old Bar Borghesi premises might be better.  The old Borghesi lunchtime and evening trade looked quite good to me (and would probably return); plus Mamo and and Sabrina do have a following.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:31 pm

"Il Buon Gustaio" and Bar Rudi (same business) are doing well in spite of the crisis. "I Folletti" has a regular clientele. On the other hand, I think that many locals are not going out as much as they used to. There are a handful of shops which have opened in the past 12 months, but many have closed during the same period. Until the economy recovers, just surviving would be enough...
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:39 pm

I agree, it sounds like survival is the name of the game in parts of the Italian economy at the moment.  In the UK we've been at the bottom of the cycle and are now on the way up again, but we all realise that in some countries the upswing has been a long time coming.  In Italy part of it is due a lack of incentive to accrue capital - if the tax system strangles entrepreneurs by over-taxing them incentives to run businesses will suffer.  Another is prehistoric governmental accounting practices and economic policies - 
I mean who DOES balance the books in Italy.  Its not the central bank or the Italian finance minister thats for sure.
In the meantime the wonderful and talented Italian people, who have given so much to the world, have to suffer.  
And on a lighter note I'm now facing a pizza crisis!

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:57 pm

Time to start making your own pizza at home? Not very difficult and lots of wonderful ingredients available. Fresh pasta is another easy option. Try ravioli with just butter and fresh chopped sage, a few shavings of Parmesan and a good glass of wine. Superb and cheap! At this time of the year, cherries are great, have them for dessert.
And, for those who have any doubts about the future, Italy will recover. Quite a few changes and adjustments will be needed, but they will cope with that. Renzi seems to be on the right track. The rest will follow, although some of them will do it reluctantly. The future will be bright. I'll drink to that! Where is the Prosecco? Very Happy
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:16 pm

We've got a old pizza oven attached to the house.  It has'nt been used for at least 4-5 years.  I guess it could be fired up, but one wonders sometime what is living in the Pizza oven.  My wife is a fabulous cook, so we eat in and eat out.  She is able to watch and soak up how chefs produce food, and then replicate it in the home. She does it in the UK and in  Italy, we are a very well fed family. But part of the experience of holidaying in Italy, whether you own a house or rent, is the superb culinary experience, and we enjoy eating out.  It just strikes me that each time a business closes down in BDL that its appeal is reduced.  I love the place and want to see it thrive.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:26 am

Glad to hear that your wife enjoys cooking and the culinary arts. It is excellent for her... and your family. You will have to thoroughly inspect that oven before using it.... 
As for Bagni, what is needed is more innovative shops and venues that will attract visitors from other areas. As we enjoy going to the Versilia, Florence, Volterra, Lucca, the Garfagnana, and many other areas for day trips, we should be able to get people from those areas to visit us. We have a beautiful region, full of history and glorious landscapes. But we need a concerted effort to put ourselves on the map.

The two new shops at La Villa that sell shoes and complements can easily compete with the ones at Forte dei Marmi, but they are not publicised. I do hope that someone with flair and imagination will reopen the Circolo dei Forestieri and would love our gorgeous Casino to come back to life, but not the way it was done.
What is needed is people with a good knowledge of the tourist industry, at international level, to take up an active role in the development of the area and a more cohesive community.
I recommend you to try "Il Buon Gustaio" on Via Val di Lima (SS12 Brennero) as they serve excellent food.
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by lancashire lass on Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:18 pm

I enjoy cooking and i like to shop locally for the produce for our meals so it means we don't eat out very often. Since we retired we eat out main meal of the day at lunch time. It means that when we do eat out we take advantage of all the set menu's at lunch time. In the evening we only really go out for pizza. the lunch time menu at Il Buon Gustaio is really good but we have tried the pizza there twice and we did not really like it, very thick base and too much topping! the foletti does really good pizza we always used to go there but it's not easy to walk to unlike Mammo's. I think Mammo suffered because he does not have an outside space, I think a lot of English people like to eat outside in the summer. Mammo says that he has not lost his passion for cooking so I hope he stays around perhaps working for someone else! and they want to get married!!when they can afford to!!

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:17 pm

Good to hear there's lots of interest in cooking its good for the health and good for the pocket!  We've not tried Il Buon Gustaio but probably will when we come over.  Someone else told me the set lunch for €10 is very good.  On the subject of Mamo, we also found ourselves commenting on how useful some outside space would be for Mamo and Sabrina, but having said that, try eating pizza outside Da Pippo in Fornoli and the flies will challenge you for your food.  I understand Bar Borghesi closed for specific reasons which it would be inappropriate to discuss on a public forum, but the place was full in the summer months and having eaten there in October, December, February, April and May. I know it had a big following amongst the locals too, particularly the retired.  I'm sure Mamo and Sabrina have considered it as a possible move, which, if they have is even worse for BDL because they must have reached the decision that there just simply is'nt a business case for a move over the road.  As Gala said, BDL needs someone with international tourism experience, but in the meantime the commune need to think about how best to divert some of the thousands of tourists who walk the streets of Lucca.
Surely a free bus/coach from Lucca to BDL would be a simple innovation, picking up at a couple of locations around Lucca and returning in the evening.  People spend money on holidays and we need to get some of it into BDL.  If there's an improved tourist market that will attract entrepreneurs, and BDL will expand instead of contracting.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:30 am

Do not forget that there is Ponte a Serraglio, with a lovely atmosphere and right now their Art Festival is starting. We go quite often to Il Monaco to have coffee (new, fantastic coffee machine), their sfogglias are the best and there is a variety of good food in the area. Da Vinicio serves "Pollo al Mattone" which is fantastic. There are also some very reasonably priced menus. Unfortunately, hubby has to follow a strict diet without salt, sugar and be careful with carbohydrates (too much of the good life in the past) and because of this we have to limit our dining outings to only a few when we go away. As we also travel continuously, it is extremely complicated to keep a balance. So this Spring we did not go out much. On the other hand, I kept quite a few herbs in pots and he is getting used to eat without salt but with plenty of herbs.
As for attracting tourists to BDL...this could be easy if the town would advertise what is going on and look for other markets. As Chris says, Lucca is an easy target, but I do not believe that we should offer free transport. It is easy to reach BDL (25 minutes by car through gorgeous landscape) and there are regular train and bus services. What should be offered is information and activities. The Versilia should be another target. We usually go there once a week, at least, it is only 45 minutes away and there is a publi with plenty of money to spend... but try to find a single poster advertising an event in BDL... and you will find none. BDL needs to create its own opportunities, but this requires vision and cooperation. We have many assets, but people should know about it. People like Debra Kolkka with her two blogs, "Bella Bagni di Lucca" and "Bagni di Lucca and beyond" have managed to put our town on the international circuit, but more work is needed from the town itself. We have been an international hub for tourists since the 12th Century, mainly because of our thermal cures. The list of important visitors over the centuries is impressive, but not enough. BDL has everything to offer, but it urgently needs promotion. And a more cohesive community involvement.
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:16 pm

Well, this is great news, indeed BDL Art Festival presented at the Ducal Palace in Lucca  Very Happy  That's the way to go...
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:04 pm

We quite like Da Vinicio and the Pollo al Mattone is wonderful but the service is very poor to appalling.  We have sat outside that restaurant in the summer and Italian family after Italian family have arrived after us but been served before us on more than one occasion.  Its a shame because the beef in balsamico is good as is the chinghale in umido.  But the wait is too much. We spent a fortune in Da Vinicio; strange way to treat people.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by lancashire lass on Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:12 pm

Oh I am glad it's not just us! we have not been to Da vinico for a few years as the service was so bad the last time we went. We were half way through our meal before they brought the drinks and after our meal we went over the road and paid because nobody came to see if we wanted anything else!!

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:04 pm

It's such a shame because its such nice restaurant, 
Mr Da Vinicio is so nice as are all the staff, and the food is great too.  Such a shame the service is not good.  I've spoken to a few people in Bagni and they've had the same issue with service.  I think the problem is that for part of the year the staffing levels can be kept fairly tight, but in the summer they need to take on more staff. Having said that, if takings have been modest  from say March to May its difficult to pay wages if you have'nt got the cash-flow. 
Like a lot of restaurants in the area they're probably 
under-capitalised.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:41 pm

It is only reasonable to think that the current crisis has affected many businesses and restaurants, cafes and bars have been hit very hard. And this happens not only in Bagni di Lucca. On this last trip, we noticed that very popular restaurants in Florence, Volterra or even Forte dei Marmi had many empty tables. Some three years ago, it was difficult to get a table. We always go to Italy on the same approximate dates, so we can easily compare figures. But Italy is not alone. On our way back, we stopped for a few nights at a very popular seaside village on the French Camargue. First of all, I was surprised to get accomodation, as it was right in the middle of festival time. The restaurants were half empty and most people were not eating "a la carte", but opting for cheaper set menus. Tough times everywhere! I would not say that businesses are undercapitalised. There is simply no cash flow and this situation is not new. The crisis started a few years ago and it has not improved.
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:55 pm

Gala, totally off-post, but has the current crisis affected builders in the BDL area and the prices they charge?  Some of the prices i've heard quoted for relatively modest jobs seem a bit steep to me.  Someone we almost bought a house from a couple of years ago told me that everyone knows that the tourists who buy houses always get charged between 2 and 3 times the going rate for a construction job.  This person is recently deceased but ran a construction company in the US for 28 years, before returning to BDL to retire.  The reason I ask is because we will be looking to do some pretty extensive work to our house; we are prepared to invest especially if it adds value to the house but there's no point in bothering if we're just viewed as yet another set of overseas owners to be ripped off.  I must admit the longer we own a home in Italy the more fatalistic we are becoming.  Houses seem to be impossible to sell and if you want anything doing you just seem to get ripped off.  Am I right in thinking this or is there some room for a bit of optimism?!

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:23 am

Renovations are not "cheap" in Italy, not only in Bagni di Lucca, and it is also the same case in quite a few EU countries (Recently completed some to  our home in Spain); however, we have never been overcharged. I cannot talk about the UK as we haven't been involved in any project there. Perhaps, we have an advantage in this field, as the builders know that hubby is a retired architect, who knows what he wants and how much it should cost, can discuss with them in Italian, so he is well positioned to ascertain whether the charges are reasonable or not. Taxes increase prices considerably, and these have gone up dramatically. My advice would be not to listen too much to "gossip" (our experience has shown us that locals tend to talk too much and know very little) have good plans and specifications ready and ask for three different quotes to compare prices. That system is old... but it never fails.

As for optimism... good times will come back, although not immediately. The crisis has hit not only Bagni di Lucca, but the whole of Italy and most of the EU. I can still remember when we were searching for a house in the area and there was little available and prices were exhorbitant. I do not think that the recovery will put prices back at that level, or perhaps this will take an extra long time, but this will happen. Smile  Very Happy


Last edited by Gala Placidia on Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:00 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Vicino on Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:44 am

I agree with Gala, there is no longer a quick buck to be made on property (unless you're in a seriously good property in a major city such as London). Building costs have indeed increased (partly due to taxes), but also because of the fact that there is a plenty of work (albeit around here the actual labouring side is often carried out by Albanians or Rumanians - nothing wrong with this by the way).

Get two or three firm quotes, and re-check that both you and the chosen builder are fully agreed on what you both expect to provide in the deal and when(!), so that when the work is complete, both sides can be happy.

Good luck !

V
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by lancashire lass on Sat Jun 28, 2014 1:15 pm

Last night we went to La lira for a pizza, it's the first time we have been there. We were very impressed! we sat outside (probable the only warm eveining we have had)had pizza and beer, the beer is excellent and they have a lot of choice. The pizza was one of the best i have had. It was cheaper than mammo's as well.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:22 pm

Thanks for the advice Gala and Vicino.  3 quotes sounds sensible.  I realise there is nothing worth having on the cheap, certainly not a major building job.  To be frank I consider myself very lucky to be in a position to own in the UK and in BDL. Feet on the ground and all that!

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by chriscol on Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:23 pm

I think we'll be trying La Lira soon.  Thanks for the info LL.

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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:34 am

Another interesting place is Il Cavallino Bianco at Benabbio. Very nice lucchese cuisine and they have a la carte or some set menus. I know them from the times they were at Boveglio, that was nine years ago!!!, but if you think that Bagni is not what it used to be, you should see Boveglio, up from Benabbio, same road. A pity, because it is a lovely town. Many times, when going to Florence, we take that road and continue from Boveglio to Collodi and from there find the Chiesina Uzzanese entry into the highway to Florence. This way you can avoid the Lucca bottlenecks and the landscape is gorgeous.
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Re: More bad news for Bagni di Lucca

Post by Flip on Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:45 am

Yes La Lira is probably the best Pizza in the BDL region, but don't tell Ilario at Sonno.
 lol!
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