Aglow in the beautiful evening sunset, Lucca welcomed us back to the walled city. Donald’s face was lit with happiness. Once we passed through the gate, a group of drummers and flag throwers began their routines. It was Luminare, when the city is lit by candlelight. By the time we reached our apartment, 15 minutes away, we were greeted by a number of Lucchesi. “Bentornati,” they shouted. Yes, we were back home!
We telephoned Francesco at Ammodonostro and booked a table for half past night. When we arrived, the chef came out of the kitchen, planted a baci on each of our two cheeks and filled us in on the past nine months. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of fish pasta followed by a fresh insalata mista and ending with my favorite dolce, semifreddo, a pistachio and dark chocolate ice cream dessert that is “to die for.” After saying ‘buona notte‘ to Francesco, we headed home ready for a good night’s rest.
The next morning next morning we practically ran to Buralli. Romina welcomed us – due baci and abbracci – and immediately handed me my cornetto uvoto e caffe Americano and Donato his sfoglio di ricotta e cappuncino. It always amazes me that she recalls our order, especially given the many months that have passed since we last set foot in Buralli.
After breakfast, we headed to Alberta’s fruit and veggie stand. Alberta, as always, laughed and gave each of us a huge hug. Then we were off to Roberto’s, our favorite butcher, where after catching up, we admired his latest photography, three large photos he had taken in Yemen. Every time I see one of his works, I think, had he not been a butcher, he would have been an amazing professional photograhpher.
In late morning, we headed to Pinelli for meranda, a mid-morning or mid-day snack. Angela, Maria Pia, Sandra, and Renza greeted us like the longtime friends we have become. And, when it was time to leave, Renza, one of the two owners of Pinelli, refused to take a penny for the yummy strudel and caffe that we had enjoyed.
That afternoon, we went to Pasticceria Taddeuci, home of Lucca’s famous buccelato, the raisin and anise bread that Donald adores. After another yummy treat, a chocolate torta for Donato and a small pizzetta per me, as well as two coffees, we made plans for dinner with Manuela and Giulio.
Later Paolo, our favorite chef called, and we too made plans to meet up later in the week. Then Francesco called from Ravenna, confirming our vacation plans to visit Milan and Venezia, with him and Stefania, come October.
That night we went to Gherardo’s where we enjoyed a wonderful pizza cappriscioso in the anfiteatro and listed to a wonderful classical music group. After Elisa insisted we end the with a limoncello, we headed home.
This marks the 21st year that Donato and I have come to Lucca and despite the many changes that have taken place in the walled city, one thing remains constant. And, that is the joyous reception we receive from the Lucchesi upon our return. Best of all, we receive the same reception every day we are here.
Siamo molto fortunato!