As usual for Italy, a trip to Lucca’s (or any other town’s market) market turns out to be much, much more. If you hadn’t already realised, there’s a big market stretching from Porta Elisa to Porta San Iacopo every Wednesday morning. The stalls are arranged in a slightly haphazard way: cheeses and hams are lodged next to second-hand dress counters and Moroccan bags are found next to flowers but that’s part of the market’s charm: one finds things one would never think of looking for ( although I would say some of the best flower sellers are outside Porta San Iacopo). I picked up some petunias and a bread cutting board on this occasion.
This delightful pair of terriers was not for sale but clearly looking for their favourite eats in the market:
We bought some fried mozzarella balls (fantastic!), polenta and the best leg of chicken we’ve tasted for a long time from one of the mobile rosticcierie and had a pleasant picnic on the sunny greensward surrounding Lucca’s magnificent walls.
By the market is a house to die for – if I could live within Lucca’s walls this would be the place for me – a magnificent semi art-nouveau house dated around 1902:
We then ambled around Lucca going down that beautiful street called IL Fosso (named after the canal in its centre which at certain times of the year is full of carp and trout). By chance, (as usual in Lucca) we entered a church which had a very interesting ethnographical museum attached to it. We realised this church belonged to a missionary order and on a wall was a poignant reminder of how many priests have been killed (so many in the last few years by Muslim extremists) by fanatics in our world. It almost seemed as if there was now a second wave of Christian persecution equivalent to those we’d heard about when singing in Peters’ basilica Rome (which after all was erected on the site of the circus constructed by Nero where fun was to be had by watching Christians being thrown to the lions).
It was a pity that there were no labels on the exhibits on the museum exhibits and no-one there to explain it to us. Clearly, the missionary work starts at home here since outside the church there was a group of refugees gathering to wait for a weekly distribution of clothing the church organises.
Our walk carried on visiting a good artist-musician friend who lives in a superb old Luccan house – one side of it faces Via San Nicolao, the other the fosso. The house is filled with wonderful instruments including psalteries. Mandola, guitars both Spanish and Portuguese, mandolins and live instruments too (in the form of canaries). It is truly a wonderful example of an old Luccan dwelling and it is always a pleasure for us to visit it (and have a glass of wine too!).
We continued our walk on visiting the Prencipe exhibition (which I have already described in my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/the-prince-of-luccas-landscape/). As it was such a beautiful day we decided we’d return home over the Pizzorne and visit that heavenly place which we prefer to keep secret but which we have already described at my post at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/a-sanctuary-and-a-hard-graft/
As we were basking in the warm sun, a group of ladies arrived to do some gardening and look after the beautiful begonias which are now flowering in time for May, the Marian month – the month of the Virgin Mary when festivities will take place there.
We climbed up to the Pizzorne plateau through beautiful forests and equally beautiful views of the Luccan plain before descending to a castle which has only recently been saved from the temperate forest jungle in which it was hidden (see my post at ) https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/a-spectacular-castle-is-reborn/) and which is so magnificently sited.
We had a well-earned Campari and coffee at Villa Basilica’s only bar before climbing up again over the Trebbio pass and then landing back on the valley floor at Bagni di Lucca where stracciatella and torroncino ices were gratefully licked by us .
And then on to see more friends and then home for a spot of supper before going to Ghivizzano Castello for our last rehearsal before Easter day with our lovely choir which has been so wonderfully feted after its debut with Pope Francis at Saint Peters basilica only a couple of weeks ago.
A shopping trip? How can any day in this heavenly country ever reduce itself to a simple shopping trip? There are so many temptation on the way and most of them do one a world of good!
O yes, I forgot the trip to Bagni di delightful hairdressing salon at Cherubini’s too after the ice-cream…