Saturday, May 11, 2013

Loving Lucca (Letter #7 from Italy: April 24, 2013)

While spending today in Lucca was unexpected, it’s welcome.
Having enjoyed our bike ride the other day, we rent bikes again, this time for a few hours. There are several ramps from the ramparts to the stone streets, leading to shops of all kinds. We stop at a ceramic store, peruse the handmade offerings and buy a few gifts for friends and family. We continue on, stopping at shops throughout the city. We stop at a shoe store where I spot the most magnificent shoes I have ever seen. I ask to try them on in a size 38 (equivalent to our size 8). They don’t have my size in the beige (my initial request) but do have it in the most beautiful, soft shade of green. I try them on and immediately fall in love with the feel of the soft leather and the look of the shoes on my feet. I must take these home – and do.
Lucca turns out to be a shopper’s paradise, and we end up filling our bicycle baskets with our purchases – bread and cheese boards handcrafted with the wood of olive trees, an Italian leather wallet for me (to replace my wallet at home that has literally burst at the seams), and each of us buys a leather bag (mine is green leather and matches my shoes. I love the impracticality of the colour. I now need only find a dress that will complement them).
We stop and visit the Palazza Pfanner, a mansion surrounded by an exquisite garden lined by lemon trees and statues of deities of Greek Olympus and the Four Seasons. The Palazzo, built in 1660, was originally owned by the Moriconi family, members of the merchant nobility. When they went bankrupt in 1680, the building was sold to the Controni family. Felix Pfanner set up a brewery there in 1846, which remained open until 1929. The Pfanner family still owns the property, opening it to the public in 1995 (thank you for sharing your beautiful home!) 

The home houses a museum of medical-surgical instruments from the late 19th century; Pietro Pfanner was a distinguished doctor, philanthropist and mayor of Lucca from 1920 to 1922. The exhibit notes that the good doctor cared for the richest and poorest of the city, often leaving money under the pillows of the residents living in poverty so that they could afford the medication they needed. A truly good heart.

We cycle on until we reach a restaurant in the middle of an open square. We eat our lunch outside, watching life unfold around us. A young father and his toddler son chase a pigeon around the square, laughing as they run. People of all shapes and sizes sit on a nearby park bench, happily licking gelato from a nearby gelateria. A little girl (18 months to two years old), dressed in a white top and pale green jumper dress and with a generous head of dark Italian hair, uses all of her resources to carefully pull herself up onto a bench, where she sits with a man who is presumably her grandfather. Not happy to sit for long, she spends the rest of her time toddling in the square, taking it all in. Cyclists move through the square, many with children in baskets.

After our late lunch, we cycle leisurely back to the bike rental place, and walk to the train station, just a few hundred metres away. Arrivederche, Lucca. It's been a wonderful day! 

No comments:

Post a Comment