LUCCA TREASURE HUNT
The next time you or anyone you know heads to Lucca, toss your tourist maps, and enjoy the walled city by going on a treasure hunt. I assure you that you will see Lucca, and feel more a part of its culture, than if you walk around the walled city staring at a map and feeling lost. Trust me, in Lucca, you simply cannot get lost. The historic walls will keep you well-grounded and the end result will be a more joyous adventure.
And, if you are traveling with friends, why not make a game of it. With minor exceptions, each of the following is worth 5 points: There is a total of 100 possible points, plus one bonus question worth 100 points. If during or after your quest, you have any questions or cannot locate something, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to help you out.
FIND PUCCINI’S STATUE (5 points)
Giacomo Puccini, Lucca’s most famous composer, is everywhere. Locate his statue for five points. And, don’t forget to attend one of the nightly Puccini events at Chiesa San Giovanni, where you’ll hear Puccini and other arias sung by wonderful performers in a spectacular concerto.
FIND THE POND WHERE LUCINDA MANSI DIED (5 points)
Lucinda Mansi is one of Lucca’s most renown figures. A beautiful woman in her early thirties, she made a pact with the devil that if she could stay young for another 30 years, the devil could have her soul. Just before midnight, 30 years later, she left the town gala where the other women were astounded by Lucinda’s great beauty, and ran to Lucca’s main clock tower. She climbed the 100 plus steps and attempted to stop the clock from hitting midnight. Failing at this effort, she descended the staircase and found the devil waiting for her. She climbed into his carriage and the devil took off in a rush. Soon the carriage burst into flames and the devil drove the burning carriage around the walls, eventually diving into the pond where, according to legend, on a night with a full moon you can see the reflection of Lucinda’s face.
CLIMB THE CLOCK TOWER WHERE LUCINDA MANSI TRIED TO STOP THE CLOCK (5 points)
Take yourself back in time, by climbing the clock tower where Lucinda tried to stop the clock. Imagine the strength it would take to pull off such a feat. It’s no wonder Lucinda ended up giving her soul to the devil.
FIND CASA DI BOIA AND IDENTIFY IT’S TRUE ORIGIN (5 points)
One of Lucca’s most treasured buildings housed a dark secret. What was it?
FIND PALAZZO NOBILE (5 points)
Palazzo Nobile was originally a one family palazzo, then later, for around two hundred years, it served as the Bank of Italy. Eventually, it became the home to fourteen families. It was Donato’s and my home for almost a dozen years.
FIND THIS SYMBOL (5 points)
Donato is a talented artist. Some years back he drew this piece of art. It’s based on a symbol found in only three or four spots in Lucca. Get five points for discovering one of these and if you can find out what the symbol depicts – we have never found anyone who knows – I’ll write about it, giving you credit, in an upcoming blog.
CLIMB TORRE GUINIGI (5 points)
Torre Guinigi is perhaps Lucca’s most famous tower and the only known tower with trees growing on top. The views from the top are spectacular.
FIND THE BENT CONCRETE SLAB AT PIAZZA BERNARDINI (5 points)
Legend has it that this palazzo was built on a holy site. Hundreds of years later, after workers had put concrete slabs surrounding the windows, they returned the following day to find one slab very bent. That was odd, given that concrete does not bend. Yet, they replaced the slab only to return the next day to find that this slab too had bent. It didn’t take long for the workers to ‘freak out,’ abandoning any further efforts to replace the bent slab, which still exists today.
FIND CANIPAROLE (5 points)
For anyone who likes to indulge in…opps…I can’t tell you otherwise it would be too easy to find. Let me just say that when you do find Caniparole, if you are anything like me, you’ll be one happy person.
NAME ONE PERSON FROM EACH OF THE FOLLOWING PASTICCERIE: TADDEUCCI, BURALLI, PINOLLI (5 points for finding the pasticcerie; 5 added points for getting the names)
To help you in this quest, the way to introduce yourself is to say, Mi chiamo (state your name), as in Mi chiamo Roberto. To ask an Italian his or her name say, Come si chiama? Literally this means, How do you call yourself? The response you get will probably be “IO?” Simply say Si and you will then have a new acquaintance.
FIND MATTA (5 points)
If you like gelato, and who doesn’t, you will love Matta. It’s the newest and best gelatoria in all of Lucca. Make sure you say “si” when they asked if you’d like the chocolate and whipped cream toppings! YUM!!!
LOCATE THE STATUE OF SAN DONATO (5 points)
Every time Donato and I pass this statue I am reminded by my husband that I don’t have a statue, not in Lucca and, so far as I know, not in Italia. I have too often, and inadvertently referred to myself as Pope Roberto (Papa Roberto), but sadly no one named Roberto has risen to such dizzying heights as to require a statue. Perhaps you will, when you find Donato’s beloved piece of stone.
BUY A SLICE OF BUCCELATO (5 points)
THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF SHOPS THAT SELL THE FAMED BREAD, BUT ONLY ONE THAT IS RENOWN FOR IT. GIVE YOURSELF A BONUS POINT IF YOU DISCOVER WHICH PLACE THAT IS.
WHERE ARE YOU? (5 points)
The picture should tell you all you need to know in order to find this place. But if not, here’s a clue: I’m quite sure that there is no other place in the world quite like it.
FIND THE DIAMOND IN THE ANGEL AT CHIESA SAN MICHELE (10 Points)
This is a tricky task, thus the extra point value. Finding the chiesa won’t be that difficult, nor once you find the chiesa, will it be hard to spot the angel. But, here is the rub: You can only see the diamond at night and not even all Lucchesi know where that is. If you get stuck write to me at email@example.com. Buona fortuna!
NAME THE FOUR DAUGHTERS AT LE SORELLE (5 points)
Without a doubt, Le Sorelle is my favorite store in Lucca – they also have stores in Firenze, Montecantini, Australia, and the United States. Emanuele started the successful enterprise many years ago, later joined by her husband Marco, who invented the most amazing product: waterproof paper. Le Sorelle now stocks plant holders, aprons, handbags, backpacks, and other items using the product. Say ciao from Donato and me – the couple are two of our most wonderful friends.
GO INSIDE THE WALLS AND FIND THE THREE OSTRICHES (5 points)
There are a number of ways to go inside Lucca’s famed walls, but only one entrance leads you to the three ostriches.
DRINK FROM THE FOSSO (5 points)
I do not mean this literally – I don’t want you drinking out of any of Lucca’s canals, but find a spot with a spigot and the fresh water that comes from it, will quench your thirst and quite possible delight you.
LOCATE THE VOLTO SANTO (5 points)
Locate the Volto Santo and, for bonus points, discover the fascinating story around the famous saint. If you can’t quite muster the courage to ask an Italain about it, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll fill you in on the fascinating history.
BONUS: FIND ME A BOOK AGENT OR GOOD PUBLISHING HOUSE (100 POINTS)
If you have entry into the literary agent or publishing world and that leads to a book contract I’ll make sure you get more than 100 points. How about an insider’s tour of Lucca or, at the least, a free copy of Becoming Italian: How to Butcher A Beautiful Language, Fall in Love, and Stay Young.