Every now and then, I experience a perfect day...where everything seems just right. I had such a glorious day last fall in the magical city of Lucca, northern Tuscany, Italy.
Lucca managed to keep the marauders at bay and then had the good fortune to be protected and ruled by Elisa, Napoleon's sister, so its beauty was enhanced and its history preserved.
Even now there are portals with massive gates for entering the town where pedestrians, mopeds and small cars wind their way around shops, cafes, open markets, piazzas, and gelato stands in the gentle bustle of the town.
The wall, wide enough to be a two lane road, towers above the city as a 3-mile park circling Lucca and offering views of the medieval look-out towers and exquisitely landscaped gardens of the villas it rings and embraces. Outside the wall at ground level lies the newer city and the surrounding countryside abundant with vineyards of olives and grapes.
My perfect Lucca day started with a stop at a small grocer's inside the walled community where Gina, my traveling companion and guide from http://villavita.net/, and I selected the ingredients for a fresh sandwich plus fruit and cheese for our bike ride and picnic atop the wall.
The weather was just right, sunny, comfortable and clear, so we could see for miles. A garden show and exhibit hugged the wall's banks where local flowers and plants were artfully displayed to the pleasure of passersby.
We could have been in Central Park with people leisurely enjoying the day on the promenade along the tree-lined wall. Midway we paused at a grassy spot to eat our delicious lunch of prosciutto, tomatoes, pecorino (sheep-milk cheese) and fresh, juicy peaches.
Gina shared a legendary story of the great jazz musician Stan Getz being incarcerated in Lucca for a month for smoking pot. The locals sat outside the jail and listened to him play from his cell every night as if they were at a concert.
The shops nearby displayed the latest fashions of stylized, supple leather and haute couture from Milan and Rome's finest designers.
For dinner we ate at a small cafe that was recommended by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Eat, Pray, Love; like her, we had the risotto with wild mushrooms and a fine red wine.
The most magical part of the day was yet to come. We went to the cathedral, where Puccini was once the organist, to hear aspiring opera students, accompanied by a grand piano, sing Puccini's famous arias.
A small audience, seated in folding chairs, listened in rapt appreciation. The night was balmy and the music enchanting. Some of us were moved to tears.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day in Tuscany. Bellissimo!
Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2010-2011 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Autumn in Lucca by Jscarreiro
Pusseggiata delle Mura by Tango 7174
toscana2 photo by Gabriella Pataky
3 years ago