Friday, October 23, 2009
Lucca, Lucca, Lucky
Our daughter Nelwyn and her husband Carlo vacationed in Italy when she was carrying their first child. They visited Lucca, ancestral home of Carlo's family, the Del Frates. Several months later, Nelwyn gave birth to little Lucca Blue Del Frate. Needless to say, she was enthusiastic for us to visit the city; it was both beautiful and meaningful. And we had promised to do so. Chris, however, was not of a mind to keep our promise for a couple of reasons. First, "You've seen one Italian hill town, you've seen them all!" This is not the attitude we take when we are 1) in Italy 2) asked sweetly to do an activity by a beloved child 3) have a once-in-a-lifetime, never to be repeated shot at either driving by or taking the exit! To be fair, I should report that the second reason was that it was raining.
We parked by the city gates of Lucca after our Trusty Tomtom had delivered us from a highly recommended restaurant in our guide book (never to be trusted again because of this vile meal). We never could have found it without the spy satelite, and that would have been a good thing. I won't tell the name of the restaurant, but I will say that the folks there have earned a magnificent crown in heaven because I was so distracted by their over-cooked beet greens and the squid with peas that was just as bad as you can imagine) that I left my purse there. I didn't discover it until we stopped for gas on the edge of town. More on that later.
The old gates of the city do, indeed, look like the gates of other well-visited Italian towns, replete with T-shirts, gelato, embroidered kitchen towels,c and coffee. The striking thing about Lucca is that the old city has a path on top of the city walls perfect for biking and walking, and it is as green in the park around the walls the Emerald City.
The rain was daunting, we were daunted. Having taken a serious look inside an olive oil shop that had samples of more oils than I could possibly taste and as many kinds of olive oil soaps and lotions as exist in the universe, Chris had gotten thrown out for taking pictures.
The nearby church has a stunning mosaic on the front. The inside is full of art, most stunning a simple Madonna.
We tried to get in to climb the tower, promising a Stair Master workout and a fabulous view, but we couldn't even find the door. We left. We didn't get gelato.
Luckily, we did need gas, and I needed to change my glasses. I looked for my purse. I couldn't remember taking it anywhere, loading it in the car, or when the last time I had seen it was. After taking the car apart and looking through all the luggage, during which Chris behaved like the true graciousness that has won him the lasting admiration of small children and our pets, we decided it really was missing. Luckily again, we had the restaurant's phone number in the no-longer forsaken guidebook. I called, they had it, and Trusty Tomtom took us back through the warren of streets to the inner modern city.
Now, I realize that most lady's purses are permanently affixed to their sides. My purse, however, is on a mission to be left everywhere I go. This particular peripatetic handbag has spend the night away from home in Encinitas, Baja California and Florence, Italy; and now it has spent a few hours in Luca. It's pushing its luck. Some day I'm going to drive away from it just so that I won't have to endure the looks of approbation and the mini-lectures from the exceedingly kind and honest people who have returned it to me. This was not the time, however, because it had money, passport, prescription glasses, and jewley. The wonderful thing is that this little adventure made both of us very happy. Nothing like narrowly escaping a disaster and having faith in human decency restored to put you in a good mood!