River Swimming, on a hot day in Tuscany

This September was the hottest ever in Italy (ie; in the 150 years since Italian unification) A measure of this is that on the very last day of September I went swimming in the River Lima. Here’s the proof!

It was very cold! The River Lima is lovely cool mountain water and a swim there is one of our favourite things to do on a hot summer day, very refreshing.  But when my son suggested the other day that it was still hot enough for a dip I forgot that much of the river would be in shade by late afternoon in late September, making it feel pretty icy! Only us two went in, the others just watched!

So perhaps an experience not to be recommended in Autumn after all! But for anyone who finds themselves in northern Tuscany on a hot sticky July or August afternoon there’s nothing better.

The River Lima is magical, and it’s so exactly the stuff of proper childhood memories, it’s what hope my children will one day reminisce fondly about and a balance to the tech and gadgetry of modern childhood.

I love being so immersed in nature. Little fish swim around you,  between 2 and 10cm, so small enough to be cute and not scary, and there’s always something beautiful to see: dragonflies, butterflies, tiny little frogs. Our first trip to the river this year was early June when the rockpools were full of tadpoles.

There are several spots where there are deep pools ideal for river swimming near to Bagni di Lucca. They are a few km beyond the town, near Ponte a Diana on the SS12 direction Abetone.  Look out for little tracks or laybys leading down to the river.The warning sign as shown below indicates there is access to the river.  (They warn of possible hydraulic activity -but we’ve never yet experienced any!) This particular sign is by a layby just past the Pian di Fiume and the Ruscello Ranch and access to the river is across this bridge, then scramble down the bank. It all adds to the fun!

About From a Tuscan Villa

Tuscan B&B, bed and breakfast accommodation and self catering villa rental in Bagni di Lucca, northern Tuscany, Italy
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10 Responses to River Swimming, on a hot day in Tuscany

  1. bagnidilucca says:

    How very brave of you. That water is freezing!

  2. Hello! I just came back from a futile trip up the Lima from Bagni di Lucca on my trusty Piaggio Liberty 125 (product plug). I say futile because I couldn’t find the spot I went swimming years ago with some American friends, now moved back to the States and incommunicado, which was POSSIBLY somewhere near Ponte Coccia. But the few trails down that I found were more gradual than the one I remember taking, and not leading to the spot where we swam. It had several deep pools and even a nicely dramatic waterfall at the eastern end. I also remember encountering in the deep water several thermal spots which modified the cold considerably. We sunned on rocks jutting out over the river (there was no “beach,” except at the western end of the area where the river narrowed and headed on toward Bagni di Lucca. My American friends christened the spot “Emerald Gorge” (for all the greenery, including the water), because they’re the kind of ex-pats that go around giving things names without even wondering if it already has a native name. This ideal spot’s elusive disappearing act is particularly vexing, as the locals don’t seem to know about it. When asked about good swimming they invariably light up and say, “Ah, Miami Beach!” a nice spot on the river, but nothing like this. By my shaky description, do you know where this spot might be, or if maybe your pictures were actually taken there? Some of it in your photos looks familiar, some not… any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated… thanx! David in Benabbio

    • Hi David, Sorry, I can’t help with this. I’ve never heard of a waterfall on the Lima, the waterfall and steep bank combination doesn’t ring any bells for me. As you’ve said it was years ago it’s possible the spot no longer exists, maybe some dam work or other human interference with the river has changed it, or perhaps there is less water now with climate change so a ‘beach’ where there wasn’t before. Do let me know if you ever find your spot again!

  3. Alice says:

    We are heading to Bagna Di Lucca to try and find the spot you describe today. Staying outside Florence which is terribly hot. Have four children between 11 and 16 with us so do hope our trip to find the Lima is successful. All because of your pics and description. Any more helpful tips for finding it would be very welcome !!

    • I hope you find your way, it will be very refreshing on a day like today! It’s easier to find the spot now as they have cut down some trees and you can see the footbridge from the layby beside the road. There’s bound to be a few cars parked there already! Stay on the SS12, go beyond Bagni di Lucca, for about 4 or 5km, the places with access to the river are around Ponte a Diana area, near Ruscello Ranch, one just before (a sliproad on left) and one after (layby and footbridge). Good Luck!

      • Alice says:

        Thank you for writing about this lovely spot. Your directions were perfect, we found it and had a magical afternoon. It was the perfect way to spend our last day in Italy – we head back to Switzerland today.

  4. Frank says:

    This is an absolutely brilliant way to spend a day. A big group of us were lucky enough to stay at Villa Rosalena last week, and spent a whole amazing (and very hot) morning hurling ourselves into the amazing water. Do not miss out.

  5. Pingback: Tuscany: when they say the “Hill towns of Tuscany” they really mean “the Mountain towns of Tuscany”

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