Walking around Lucca
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
This rainy morning offered a perfect opportunity to do some photo cleanup. With the number of photos we are taking, it would be an overwhelming task, back in Canada.
Here is a new observation: We saw so many groups of tourists this afternoon, and they all possess a kind of discipline that Raymond and I will NEVER acquire: following strict directions and staying together with the group. While they dutifully continued their walk, the two of us had gone into a gelateria to select the flavour of the day (more of that further down), stopped at a Bialetti shop to check out the new coffee trends, and meandered in small alleys to take pictures… Needless to say, we would definitely be a tour guide’s worst nightmare!!!
Today’s gelato experience comes from Sandrino, il gelato al naturale (gelateriesandrino.it). Raymond had his pistacchio favourite while I tried something more exotic. You start by choosing a lovely sugar cone that is swirled under a white chocolate fountain and then elegantly filled with your gelato selection. The final touch is the round wafer that is delicately poised on top, like an English royal hat. Fancy, but delizioso!
First “real” discovery stop: Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, where we met Gianpietro, an 86-year old native who was passionate about his town and this beautiful piazza. He was born in one of the buildings and was eager to share what used to be the “good old days”.
Originally, the piazza was a Roman arena and even if it has drastically changed over the centuries, its illustrious past remains. Today, the four entry arches lead to souvenir shops and eateries with a “tourist menu”. We will pass, thank you…
As we continued on our walk, we stopped at the Basilica of St. Frediano, built in the second half of the 6th century by Frediano, an Irish bishop of Lucca. However, It is only much later (the first half of the 12th century) that it became a typical Roman Basilica. Though sober both inside and out, it has a magnificent mosaic on the façade, and several chapels serve as devotional or burial purposes. There is an entrance fee of 3 euros which includes an information pamphlet.
Dinner at L’Oste di Lucca (www.lostedilucca.it), close to the sites we visited this afternoon. Their cuisine offers local ingredients and pasta made on the premises. Raymond had a meat ravioli to die for and I had veal scaloppine with roasted potatoes and veggies. Prosecco is becoming the wine of choice… delicious!
Wine is also available in small bottles of 375 ml, which is great for two people. It also allows you to taste a more expensive wine without breaking the bank. I find that both practical and economical.
Note to travelers: If you have never traveled to Italy, know that main courses (Secondi) do not include the sides we are accustomed to in North America. Potatoes and veggies have to be ordered separately. Often, the menu will only mention “Verdura” (greens), and you might want to ask what they are serving that day.
Off to bed…