Treasures not to be missed
The city’s top historic sites
A few minutes from the seaside, less than an hour’s drive from Florence and bordering Pisa, Lucca is a jewel that has remained intact thanks to its Renaissance stone walls that protect the city. The main road leading through the center of the city is via Fillungo, the main shopping street. Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a piazza built into the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater and merits a visit, as do Piazza San Michele, located n the heart of downtown Lucca, and Piazza San Martino, home to the Duomo and the sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto, work of Jacopo della Quercia. Numerous Medieval churches of significant architectural value can be found within the city walls including the Torre del Guinigi, a tower that overlooks the rooftops of the city. There are also beautiful Renaissance palaces, like the Palazzo Ducale, designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati from 1577 to 1582 and finished by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century. Inside the walls, there are enjoyable parks, like the one around Villa Guinigi, home to the Museo Nazionale. You can walk past the former home of Giacomo Puccini, Casa Natale Museo, currently closed for restoration work, or visit the Teatro del Giglio where the musician played many times. For real Puccini fans, we also suggest a visit to Caffè Di Simo –http://www.caffedisimo.it/, a coffee shop where the artist and other important figures used to spend time.
This isn’t your average art exhibit. The seven artists whose work will be on display inside one of the most beautiful palazzi in the city are non-other than beans, spelt, chestnuts, oil, bread, cigars and chocolate. Rather than hung on walls or positioned on top of marbles stands, the local foods will be artistically arranged on tabletops for people to look at, smell and taste.
From November 20th to December 12th, the city of Lucca will pay homage to its unique culinary traditions with four weekends of events dedicated to local wine and food products. This year is the seventh annual event, called Il Desco, will take place in the city’s three cloisters and in the rooms of the Real Collegio.
On Saturday and Sunday, November 20 and 21, the weekend’s activities will be dedicated to the bean (fagiolo), whereas the following weekend, November 27 and 28, will be a celebration of spelt (farro), an ancient grain from Garfagnana, ground in stone mills and used to make tasty, yet healthy dishes.
On December 4 and 5, the city will come alive with chestnuts (castagne), the small treasures of the Serchio Valley forests. On Wednesday, December 8, cigars and chocolate (sigari e cioccolata) will be the featured famous couple. Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12, the festival will come to a close with a celebration of olive oil and bread (olio e pane) from the hills outside Lucca. What could be better than great olive oil drizzled on a slice of crispy, toasted bread.
New to the festival this year, the tourism board of Lucca, together with the Chamber of Commerce, the city and the province, has organized an offshoot event called “Esco dal Desco.” The city’s stores and restaurants will take place in the celebration by offering samples of dishes made with the ingredient of the week. There will also be workshops, wine tastings, tours and collateral events like
“Mangiarsi le parole” (Eat your words), during which top food and wine writers will talk about their professions at various downtown bookstores. And in collaboration with Lucca Digital PhotoFest, there will be an exhibit of archeological findings from a 16th century osteria. The exhibit, entitled Kakushiaji, has been curated by Reiko Hiramatsu.
Mariagrazia Villa – Credits: Photo By Vip e PGMedia