The morning began as most, just a new place and a new office. Breakfast here is offered until 10:00, so I walked out my door and into the cute little eating are at 9:00. Verusca made me uno of my due cappuccinos and I enjoyed my usuals. Couples sat sharing tables, planning their day. About midway through my breakfast, a last couple entered but with no where to sit. Verusca asked if a single lady might join me, freeing the table she just sat down at. Certo.
After a few minutes of silence, I asked, “How long are you in Lucca?” She said she did not understand. I asked, “Quanti giorni a Lucca?” Still she made it clear she did not understand. A woman at the next table leaned over and loudly translated my Italian to English for the woman. I just thought that was so funny. I can make my self not understood in my mother tongue all by myself, Grazie! No I am not being mean…it’s just that several started laughing a bit, knowing I had already tried English. As I said…it was funny. The remainder of my breakfast was in silence.I roamed about until the sweet sound of a choir lead me to this church. Ilaria and I had visited the outside of it last evening and she had said the frescoes inside were quite beautiful. I found myself in Chiesa di Sant’ Anastasio. The old church is used by the Romanian Christian-Orthodox community of Lucca. The inside was packed with families standing during the homily. There were no chairs except beautiful, gilded thrones of sorts along the side. In the back, there was a counter to buy candles. People were coming up to do this during mass. They would purchase, go outside, light the candle and add it to a collection burning out there. I assume it was a special day. I think perhaps honoring those who have passed.
Last night, when I asked Ilaria what some of the symbols of Lucca were, this tree topped tower made the list. The tower was built in the 1300s by the Guinigi family. The trees planted at the top represented rebirth and renwal. Making the easy climb (230 steps) grants you a beautiful, 360 view of Lucca.Speaking of 360 views, there is another on my list. I head to one of the many bicicletta shops around the city. I choose Poli. The Poli family has had this shop since 1934. When you walk in, they simply ask for your driver’s license or a form of ID for them to hold onto, choose a bike for you, and you’re off. I am happy with the bici chosen for me….Ecco….the Italian flag!
I ride up the ramp from the shop to the wall, and am off, enjoying the views, the freedom, the breeze as so many before me have.
Very little remains of Lucca’s first fortification circle of walls built by the Romans. In the 11th and 12th centuries the construction of the first medieval walls began. The last expansion was in the 16th and 17 centuries. The walls are formed of eleven ramparts joined by curtains for a total length of over four kilometers.
When I return my bici and pay my 2 eruo….yes due. I walk from the shop area (If you are from Fredericksburg and have ever been into Rode’s welding shop, it is what springs to mind here) to the “showroom” (wink, wink). I am walking dodging half opened boxes, slipping on plastic wrap and admiring the enlarged black and white photos hung haphazardly around.
Antonio, the owner, sees he has a live one and comes to share narration for the stills. The previous is a photo of his father and mother. He looks just like his papa.
Below is one of his papa with members of Team POLI.While I am in Poli, there is also a young Russian couple. They are enjoying listening to the stories shared in broken english and spurts of italian as well. At one point, Antonio grabs my camera from me and thrusts it at the Russian girl, telling her to take a photo of him and la signora. As you can see, he is happy with himself and I am tickled by his tactics. It is HIS shop after all.
After my triathlon (walking, climbing and biking), I have worked up quite an appetite. I want to eat light so I can eat again later…is that bad? (If you say si…we can never travel together.) I choose panzanella and a bicchiere di vino bianco. Perfetto summer lunch.At this point in the trip I am embracing the vino/caffe cycle. One relaxes for the moment, the other gets ya going again.I head back to the room for a bit to regroup. If you visit Lucca, be sure not to buzz the wrong buzzer.It is obviousthe Renato family deals with this issue all the time.Exiting in the late afternoon, I notice there will be some sort of something in the anfiteatro tonight.My main goal on tonight’s short list is to revisit Santa Cristina…the cool enoteca Ilaria walked me through last night. However, when I first walk by, there is no one there, so I go do a bit of research at the Arts and Crafts festival. There I find several pieces I would like to take home with me. My favorite is by an artist who takes reclaimed wood, paints it then crudely carves in simple objects. I really wanted a silver one of a moka machine, but knew it was much too heavy to lug home. I made some notes and will try to replicate.
In my pocket, I always try to keep a few spare euro to applaud the very talented street musicians and artists.
wpvideo Nh5aIlDu]After 19:00, I return to Santa Cristina. Still the only one there, I decide to start a trend and order a spritz.STILL the only one there, I move on to my meal of the night, prosciutto e melone. I am molto felice at this point. Look at this presentation! They seem to do many thing right here at Santa Cristina. Cristina, the owner (she adds, “no Santa”) is from Scotland and has been in Italia tre anni now. She has has this place for due. I look forward to creating my own Aperitivo Hour at la CONN terra. All of you reading this now are invited! The concept is so rich and the preparation so little.
I enjoy sitting, sipping and eating, watching the world go by.Leaving Santa Cristina, I head in for the night. It is early, but I am tired and need to write to you. At about 22:00, my room starts thumping. I can hear, let’s call it “music” muffled with a steady beat. For the first hour and a half, I try to ignore. It is not bothering me, just making me curious. Finally at about 23:30 I head down (in my pjs and scrubbed face) and around the corner and witness for most, the night is still young.
Passing by the gelateria on the corner, I succumb, grab a dolce and call it a notte.