Lucca Day One

Our landlady Sonia pedaled up on her bicycle within minutes of our arrival. She dug in the handlebar basket for a key and opened the tall green door. The key clunked a couple times and opened to a lobby tiled in a simple mosaic design. I can use the word “simple” because I didn’t lay the 80 thousand tiny pieces of tile that make up the design.

First Sonia showed us to the rear of said lobby. She opened a cabinet and told us #3 was our breaker box.  One box high, another box low. For the blackouts. First check the box in the apartment, then the top box, then the low box. If the switches are down, flip them up.

We marched up the stairs. (Okay, Dana and I dragged our giant bags into a teeny elevator.) Paul followed Sonia up the stairs. We met one floor up. Sonia led us into a spotless, homey apartment full of light.  She showed us how the key must turn three complete rotations to lock or unlock the front door.  Here are a few pictures.

The sunset terrace.

lucca terrace

The  cheerful kitchen with its red cabinets and family table. Below that, a picture of the Moka coffee maker. The coffee is so strong you could strip paint with it. I was quite pleased with myself for making my first successful espresso in this gadget!

IMG_1704-1

This is my adorable room with twin beds and a big window. I love to listen to the sounds of our neighborhood going about its morning.

This is Dana & Paul’s room with the pretty bed and striped dresser.


After freshening up we set out to explore, determined not to sleep before night in order to change our internal clocks. It was Saturday afternoon and the big antique market filled the piazzas with people, elbow to elbow. We found a cafe/deli and bought cured meats and giant strawberries for Sunday breakfast and had a glass of prosecco. The aforementioned market was huge! The vendors spilled from one square into the next, selling furniture, hardware, pottery, posters, paintings… 

As afternoon turned to evening the streets grew more crowded and we began to run out of steam. We decided to eat early like the Americans we are instead of waiting until 9:00 pm, the traditional time for the evening meal here.

After a few wrong turns, we found Gigi Cafe. Dana and I started with zucchini pudding (budino, I think) covered in melted pecorino cheese. There were pink peppercorns sprinkled on it and it was HEAVENLY. Paul had salt cod made into meatballs in a chick pea sauce. All remarkably delicious. We ordered a liter of house white and it was very good wine, just like Dana and Paul promised! For round two, I had crispy prosciutto and fresh, local asparagus on handmade pasta. It was rich and smoky and gone before I knew it. Dana had a veal cutlet in tomato sauce with capers. Paul ordered Bolognese. Everything was divine. For some reason we decided we needed to go another round, so ordered sliced beef in red wine with a side of crispy herbed potatoes. Our server followed that with a complimentary dessert wine and little biscotti. (Some version this follows every large meal.) After that, we waddled through now quiet streets back to the main drag, where a dense and cheerful crowd strolled among open shops, bars and restaurants. We found our way back to Via Della Mano and slept deeply.

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