Lucca's spot

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bye bye September Lucchese... see you next year!

And even September is going towards the end, you could not be in a better place to welcome the Autumn season, just walking on the walls you will have a great view over the mountains and the turning colours of the leaves, the chilly pure air in the morning and that lukewarm sun during the day...

After your daily trips and explorations, enjoy a glass of wine and some food at the Enoteca Calasto in piazza San Giovanni and listen to some great young Opera Singers on Friday starting at 8.30 pm. 

Markets are on even this weekend:

  • the local weekly mixed market in Via dei Bacchettoni on Saturday morning 
  • the lovely Arts&Crafts Market in Piazza San Giusto on Sat&Sun will give you the opportunity to meet many artisans and some cute objects great for your presents of this holiday in Lucca
  • the last traditional fair market on Sunday all day in Borgo Giannotti district to end the September Lucchese celebrations

Not interested in shopping? 

On Saturday afternoon from 3 till 8pm, twelve artists will open the doors of their studios, ateliers so you can browse the secrets of painting, photography and sculpture. 

Here is the map:

An interesting event is dedicated to Fashion, Cars and Giacomo Puccini

a fashion show, a catwalk for the new collection of the local designer Piero Ricci, the models will walk in front of the Maestro's statue (Piazza Cittadella) on Saturday from 5.30 pm

The Giglio Theatre has offered some precious japanese kimono worn for Madame Butterfly, realized by Catherine Voeffray for the anniversary of the opera.  

In case you are interested, the event is free but you need to book in advance your seat at the Puccini Museum ticket office on Friday (9.30-6.30).

On Sunday instead still in the same square, the Lancia Lamboda car will be in exhibition for all day. That is the last car bought by Giacomo Puccini in 1924, it could reach the speed of 125 km/h.

For your Saturday night a couple of ideas: 

- the free jazz concert "Waiting for Lucca Jazz 2014" at Palazzo Ducale at 6pm (Piazza Napoleone), it is even a chance to see the interior, the rooms which usually are closed ;) 

- the National Museums, Palazzo Mansi and Villa Guinigi are doing a late night opening. Free entrance from 7.30 till 11.30 pm

On Sunday afternoon, it will be the Lucchese Crossbow and Archery team to say goodbye to this edition of the September Lucchese on Sunday competing for the First San Michele Trophy

The musicians, medieval costumes and flag throwers will depart from Via dei Bacchettoni at to parade through the central main street to arrive in Piazza Guidiccioni where the archery competition will start at 3.30pm. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

More September Lucchese coming this weekend...

The monthly Antique market, one of the best in Tuscany is just on your doorstep on Saturday and Sunday: Giglio's square Cathedral's square, San Giusto,  San Giovanni,Via del Battistero, Via Donnino. Get lost with books, prints, medals, painting, statues, clothes and unusual tools...

If you get hungry in Piazza Napoleone there will be 2 markets dedicated to food: Flavours, Bread & Artisan instead, round the corner in Piazza San Michele, do not forget under the loggia the Local Winetasting open from 12 till 8pm everyday: 6€ for 4 glasses of wine.

Moreover on Sunday, you are invited to head outside the walls in Borgo Giannotti district for Saint Matthew traditional fair market. Great fun! 

Something that can satisfy both ladies and gentlemen will be the exhibition Motorbikes and Art (what a couple?!) in front of the Caffè delle Mura on the walls on Saturday. This morning I have seen some beautiful Harley Davidson arriving. 

I have never heard about this festival, maybe it is the first edition but it sounds very interesting: Histrionika Lucca 2014: street artists as jugglers, musicians, clowns, acrobats, puppeteers will meet in the basement of San Colombano bastion, just under the walls on Saturday from 5 till 11 pm. 

If you are looking for something more relaxing there is a concert in San Michele church on Saturday at 5.30 pm:  Symphony  n.2 “Lobgesang” by Felix Mendelsshon (ticket 10€)

Finally more a typical event related to the city is the The Big Crossbow Tournament taking place on the field outside Saint Peter bastion on Sunday from 3pm/3.30 pm: Lucca will face Pisa and Massa Marittima, you know very well who you have to support, right? Anyway, the event will have a parade first with drums, costumes and flag throwers. 

Fingers crossed for the weather and have a great weekend in Lucca!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Settembre Lucchese... you will not forget it!

I know it is the end of the summer and for most of the people this means back to work, to school and to the daily routine but the Lucchese people have one more reason to put off the arrival of the Autumn and you are very lucky to be in Lucca this month, because the city will be magical...

Markets of any kinds will be all around, concerts, exhibitions, competitions and the amusement park, the funfair outside the walls... but the main big event will be on the night of September 13th: The Luminara of The Holy Face (Il Volto Santo), an incredible candlelight religious procession through the medieval streets and amazing fireworks at the end. 

It is a very special day, you will feel the identity of Lucca and its inhabitants. Not only the parish churches are coming to pay homage to the legendary crucifix but also the mayors from all the surrounding villages, the medieval costumes, the representatives of the local banks, offices, lawyers, artisans, policemen, soldiers, the Lucchese people emigrated all over and more... so just to give you and idea that the parade is going to be long long and long. 

And wherever they will pass, the palaces will be lightened by a myriad of candles. I am sure you have noticed the buzz around town in the last few days with the cranes assembling the iron frames around the windows, the doors and the arches...just imagine how it is going to be in the dark!

The procession will start at 20.00 o'clock from San Frediano's church and then will cross Via Fillungo, Piazza San Michele, Via Vittorio Veneto, Piazza Napoleone and it will end at St. Martin's Cathedral. This is the route, you can decide the follow the long procession or you can simply stay along the main street or in a square. Be prepared because it is going to be very busy everywhere!!

Once the parade will arrive at the Cathedral, there will be the Blessing and the Mottetone will be played: a mottetto with 8 voices, instruments, two trumpets and two horns composed by Giacomo Puccini's great grand father. For you it will be time to run back to the high terrace of your apartment or to the walls (between San Donato's gate to Santa Maria's gate - orange line on the map above) to see the wonderful show of the fireworks at 23.30.

The Settembre Lucchese is traditionally important for its markets from Saturday till the end of the month you will find a small one in Piazza Napoleone. On Sunday (Sept 14th) all day long the entire district of Borgo Giannotti, just outside Porta Santa Maria, will have a great fair.

Here do as the locals... grab a piece of Croccante (it is a nougat made usually with almond and caramel or a Bombolone/doughnut :)

My dears fashion and shopping addicted Villa Bottini is your must do this weekend, here you can find Fashion in Flair, an exhibition with the best Made in Italy for clothes, jewellery, shoes and furniture.

If you get very thirsty do not forget that under the Palazzo Pretorio in Piazza San Michele everyday you can find Lucca winetasting with all the main local producers.

Really, you could not choose a better time to stay in Lucca!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Which is your favourite music?

I am not talking about the weather, neither about the typical pizza, but about music!

On Saturday starting at 18.30 an itinerant show on the walls will take place: dance, music, circus and theatre. The audience is invited to be part of the event together with the artists on this beautiful natural environment

Spring to begin at the Baluardo di San Colombano: the Frog Ballet company will represent the second part of the Spring Festival by Igor Stravinskij.

Summer the multicultural Magma Cirkus will follow and lead you to the second stop on the Baluardo di San Regolo...  

and it will become Autumn moving towards the Botanical Garden, a place for meditation. Alessandro Bertolucci and his actors group will introduce this season reading some sonnets and poems. 

At the entrance of the Botanical Garden you can listen to the Violin Concert from the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. 

Then the last one: Winter. Still inside the Garden there will be a sort of freezing... the show is based on the Jon Fosse's theatrical text.

Get a gelato or an icy granita and browse at the Antique Market (Cathedral Sqaure, San Giovanni square, San Giusto squarre, Via del Battistero and Via del Gallo, Bernardini square) on Saturday and Sunday (9-19), there are more then 200 vendors... I am sure you will enjoy it! 

The Lucca Summer Festival this year will offer something new: cinema in Piazza Napoleone. On Saturday night you can watch the movie Jimi is all by my side, the biography of Jimi Hendrix enacted by Andre3000. The film will be in English with subtitles. Ticket 8€ or reduced 5€ if you have purchased another ticket of the festival. 

Then I know that it is completely sold out but Sunday night, the amazing Stevie Wonder will perform. It is his only concert in Italy and the city of Lucca is very proud to have him. I bet that any corner of the surrounding streets will be full of people. 

Buon Weekend! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

San Paolino celebrations: the patron Saint of Lucca

Each town tiny village in Italy has its own patron saint and when it comes to celebrate him or her a Holy Mass is not enough, so that's what will happen in Lucca for San Paolino days.

First of all, let me introduce you San Paolino. According to the tradition he was the first bishop of the city, we do not know much about his life. Perhaps he was sent to Lucca by Saint Peter to christianize the population during roman times. He died around the I century a.C.

Anyway, the devotion towards him started later on in the Middle Ages. In 1261 the San Giorgio church was destroyed to build the second ring of walls and some relics came to light.

On July 12, 1664 the miracle happened: lot of people were on the walls to celebrate the saint waiting for the cannon shot. Something went wrong, the cannon was supposed to be loaded with blanks, instead it actually fired a spray of gunfire in the direction of some people that was there to attend the event.
Luckily or miraculously San Paolino's intervention saved them, nobody was injured!

This episode is represented on a painting by Gian Domenico Lombardi that you can admire in San Paolino's church. It is also an interesting document of the walls and of the society of the 18th century.

So Saturday 12, all day long on the San Donato bastion on the walls (west side of the city) there will be artillery shots, historical costumes and games.

At 17.30 in front of the San Paolino church a prize will be given to the best Torta co' Becchi, which is a typical cake, go there maybe you will get a bite and be part of the jury!

At 18.30 the Archbishop will celebrate the Holy Mass and during the cerimony the Mayor will offer the big candle to protect the city of Lucca and its inhabitants.

Tonight at 21.30 do not miss the main event: The Crossbow Tournament in the Cathedral Square (San Martino) to win the Palio, a silk banner.
The competition still follows the 1443 rules, the city is divided in 3 teams according to the districts:
San Paolino
San Martino
San Salvatore

On Sunday be back on the walls on San Frediano platform to attend the artillery, historical parades, dances, flags and more...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Breathe the past times: roman and medieval event in Lucca and around

I would be happier if I could tell you "Let's meet tonight in the square to see the football match!" 

Instead, Italy is out and to be honest with you we deserve it. Anyway, I still like to follow the World Cup now that is getting close to final game.

Here are the schedules and channels if you like it to watch in your comfortable LuccaHolidayHomes with a glass of Prosecco, otherwise there are plenty of bars in town which they have wide screen outside i.e Pult in Via Fillungo, Bar Zero in Via San Paolino, Rewine in Via Calderia, most of the bars in the Anfiteatro square.

Argentina - Belgium Saturday 05 at 18.00 on Sky Italia (this match is on pay tv, so you will have to see it at the bar) 

Netherlands - CostaRica Saturday 05 at 22.00 on RaiSport 1 (channel 57 of your house tv)

Then on Tuesday 8 July: Brazil -Germany at 22.00 on RaiSport1 (channel 57 of your house tv)

Ladies, do not panic the summer sales will start today, so you can shop till you drop in Via Fillungo or wherever you will go in Florence or Pisa... some good bargains are waiting for you!

Then again on Thursday (July 10) it will be shopping night in Lucca so the stores will be opened even after dinner till midnight!

An idea if you have a car this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is to go to a great event in Versilia, so that you can spend the day in Viareggio at the beach or just walking on the promenade or on the pier and then later on you can move a little but further up on the hill, towards Massaciuccoli, for an amazing Roman festival.

In this village there is an interesting archaeological site where you can see the remains of a roman villa and of the thermal baths. For the event you will be in a real roman village with the military camp, barbarians, gladiators. You will eat roman food based on the Apicio recipes', you can have your roman make up done, you can dress as roman or learn to fight...then music, dances and markets and much more...

The festival starts at 17.00 till midnight. Ticket 7€

Have a look at the website to see last year edition. I am sure you will be impressed!

If you decide anyway to stay local or to give you our best welcome on Sunday even in Lucca there's something to make you breathe the medieval times: The National Crossbow Tournament.

At 16.30 the event will start with an historical parade: drummers, soldiers, dancers, archery, flag wavers, traditional costumes will leave from the east side of the city (via del Bastardo) and will cross Via Fillungo, Piazza Bernardini, Via della Trombe to end in Piazzale Arrigoni (behind the San Martino cathedral, on the walls side)

At 17.00 the tournament will begin. 15 players for each city team: San Marino, Massa Marittima and Lucca will compete for the Silver Cup. Then the three best players of each team will do another competition to gain the title of Crossbow King

Off course, I can not forget music and concerts:

  • on Saturday night at 21.00 in the basement of the walls at San Regolo bulwark, the students of Boccherini school will perform.
  • on Monday night, second appointment with the Lucca Summer Festival offers An Evening of Guitars in Piazza Napoleone 
  • on Thursday night you have two options: still in Piazza Napoleone you can dance with The Prodigy or you can relax with a Piano Recital at the enchanting Oratorio degli Angeli Custodi
  • then on Friday at the Botanical Garden, there is a special event, you pay only 3€ ticket and you can join the guided tour at 18.30 and then be back at 21.00 for the concert Arts under the tree - Italian and Southamerican Music. 

Finally, I would like to dedicate this funny video to all our American guests as yesterday they celebrated the 4th of July!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The first travellers, the pilgrims are back in Lucca

How many miles have you done in your excursions in Lucca, Florence, Siena or wherever during your stay in Italy?

Did you expect it? I believe you can be tired but hopefully you are even more satisfied of your efforts. Was it worthy to see that Cathedral, that tower or that square, wasn't it?

Now think for a minute how it could have been in the past, in medieval times: no trains, no cars, no planes... just your two feet and stick. You would have been called nor a traveler, neither a tourist, but a pilgrim. 

That's the main event this weekend in Lucca: the Via Francigena, a medieval route 1600 km
long from Canterbury to Rome

For three days the city will become again a place where the pilgrims can find a shelter, a place to rest, to have some food and something to drink, so that the day after they can continue their path towards Rome. Don't get wrong they won't stay in a hotel or in a b&b, but there will be some lucchese family that will open the door of their houses, exactly how it was in the past.

On Saturday at 12.00 you can attend the opening of the new museum dedicated to the Via Francigena on walls at The Headman's House on the San Salvatore bulwark.The pilgrims will have lunch later in San Francesco square.

On Sunday evening at 21.00 to end the event there will be a free concert in San Michele's church with a choir and an orchestra: The Masters of the Saint Cecilia Chapel (Cathedral of Lucca) between 1800 and 1900".

A quite unusual and interesting even this weekend is held in Camaiore, a village in the Versilia area, that you can easily reach by train or by bus from Lucca.

Long coloured sawdust carpets called "pula" in dialect will cover the centre to celebrate the religious Corpus Domini. The artisans need usually some months to prepare them: choosing the theme, that can be religious, social, geometrical or flower decoration, then they have to select the colours and finally they can do the mixture of sawdust and aniline. These carpets can be 200 meters long.

Probably this tradition has started in the 1800, the Borbone family used to do these carpets with flowers to welcome their noble guests. Later on sawdust has replaced the flowrers.

The Camaiore artisans are very proud about this event. They stay awake all the night before to arrange them and so you have to be there quite quickly on Sunday morning because during the day the procession will walk on them... As everything that it is beautiful, they are ephemeral.

Please read here if you need more information.

Tomorrow Summer will officially start and Tuscany has decided to welcome the Solstice with many events in the whole region. From Florence to Pisa, Lucca to Siena please check this website for the program. Unfortunately, I have to admit the city of Lucca itself has not proposed so much, so you might better check the province as Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi or other cities as Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Have a great weekend and on Tuesday at 18.00 you'd better support the Italian football team! ;)

Last but not least do not forget to have a look at the Guinness World Record dinner on the walls on Friday!