Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Shopping in Lucca

Lucca, the walled city, is 31 miles west of the of Florence, Italy’s magnificent and historic city. We joined Lucca’s citizens and walked on the wall—in fact Lucca once had three walls. If you live there you can ride the wall on a bike, enjoy a picnic or just stroll along the ramparts. My hubby and I strolled ignoring the rain that fell and the edge of the ramparts—a drop of approximately 40 feet.
The town is blessed with old world charm—fruit and vegetable stands have taken the place of an ancient nunnery, the pungent aromas wafting out of cheese stores made out mouths water and there are expensive boutiques where a tourist on a budget can window shop. A statue of Puccini graces the town square and each year Lucca hosts a festival in his honor. Carrara marble from the old Roman Amphitheatre fronts one of its many churches. A medieval palace—Torre Guinigi—has six ilex trees that have made a home for themselves on its top, the tree’s roots have grown into the room below. Villa Reale—once the home of Napoleon’s sister, Princess Elisa, is famous for its gardens—begun in the 16th century and recreated halfway through the 17th. Concerts are sometimes held in the Teatro di Vendura, a theatre sculpted out of hedges.
As we walk through the streets we remember we have a few more Christmas presents to purchase and on a side street, we find a small, boutique with prices we can afford. The proprietor doesn’t speak English and I fumble with my cassette learned 50-words of Italian before remembering the pocket dictionary I bought for the trip. Every one in the shop takes turns with the dictionary and with laughter and pantomime I describe the friends we need gifts for the 105-year old mother of our best friend, the neighbor who gathers our mail, the friend who over-waters out plants and mementos for ourselves. We buy enough gifts to fill every loved one’s stocking before we manage to board the wrong train as we head back to Florence—a part of our adventure in a city we’ll never forget.



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  1. Italy at any time is wonderful, but Christmas time it's even more so.

  2. If I were fabulously wealthy, I would buy a little villa in Italy. Good food, good wine, good people.