It has been a busy weekend and week…..On the weekend we had a pleasant supprise visit from our beloved friends…Giulia e Andrea, whom I met at work over 2 years ago. They have since moved back to their “hometown” of Lucca and have since had their first bambino “M”. It was such a delight to catch up and finally get to see and hold the new addition.
I have to admit until I met G e A, Lucca had not hit my radar…. It was not until I started talking with Giulia about coming to Italy with the children that she suggested that I consider Lucca as a place of residence due to its many endearing virtues…. The rest was history!!! I am soooooo pleased that I met Giulia and Andrea for many reasons… I feel like I am living in a dream…. Grazie mille G e A!!!
One other reason I am pleased to have met G e A, is their extended family welcome…. Andreas brother Giovanni, has also become a dear and valued friend of our family….. He made our transition from Roma airport to Lucca a very smooth and safe journey. As if this was not enough…..he has also decided that during the summer he does not need his car so much so left it here in Lucca for us to use until he needs it back in a few months……… I mean really … c’mon… when does my luck dry up???
So yesterday I decided it was time to hit the roads of Italy and seeing as though it is summer… hit the beach!! We took off to Viareggio, in a general direction at least… pleasantly…supprisingly we took only 20mins to get from Lucca to Viareggio. It was initially daunting driving on the wrong side etc, but, as always, you adapt to the opposite direction rather quickly…. It was a beautiful drive and we all got ridiculously sunburnt!! Sorry mum, forgot the sunscreen, I was too preoccupied thinking about how the hell I was going to stay alive on the roads!!!
The beach was packed, so completely different to Australian beach culture, some things are much better and some worse (but I am not here to compare so I will leave this).
With my confidence up, I decided to hit the road again today. We had an open invitation from our land lady to visit her mothers (unoccupied) villa (with a pool) in the countryside only 15 mins drive from our house. She has asked us to frequent to pool to make it look lived in, and we were happy to oblige…twist my arm!!! So we followed Erico (the husband of the land lady) up to the villa by car… this is what films are based on … tree lined roads, cobble stone roads, gigantic stone walls, olive trees, pear trees, vineyard’s, winding up the mountains until finally we reached “Paola’s villa”. It is everything an so much more you could dream of a tuscan villa to be. Beautifull (enchanted – as the children said) gardens, textures, colours, living areas sprawling but intimately defined into various areas. We were all so thrilled to be a part of this surprise and felt like this was a true adventure…. Erico advised us that if we kept walking up the road we would reach a local bar that sells “some food”….. so after a swim induced hunger we rambled up the road to the bar….. again like walking into a dream or a movie.. it was 12 md and the family owned and run restaurant was quiet but the owners/family were sitting down together having lunch…. With two big platters of pasta, with unavoidable infectious aromas we knew we had come to the right place J
It was another glorious unexpected moment, we were ridiculously spoilt…. Malachy was having a moment and was demanding that he wanted honey with lunch… So I said to the waitress (who did not speak English – no-one did) he is being fussy he just wants honey (miele)…. Disregarding his ridiculous request. But she came out with the quaintest little honey pot just for him. And when Gabby got sad about not getting pasta, she delivered some gluten free chips instead… Needless to say the pasta was so fresh and delicious I could have married the cook their and then but his wife and 3 daughters may have been perturbed so I resisted….Malachy and I counted no less than 20 varieties of salame in this shop just in the back block of seemingly nowhere. With three children who consided salame a treat for dessert….. we will definitely be heading to this bar every time we visit the villa!!!
As we headed back to town it started to rain so I decided that I was feeling confident with my newly purchased tom tom navigator and hit the “Garfagnana” region. So though the mountains and riverside we drove. A spectacular drive along the river to Castelnuova di Garfagnana, we walked through the medieval streets through the castle and over some bridges while partaking in the delight of the local gelati.
On our way home we fumbled through the back roads and also visited Barga too…. We have so much to see, beauty, character, art, culture, creativity is in abundance in every corner….. I am inspired to do and see so much more… the seed is planted and I am now thinking I would like to do some driving through Italy with the children to many places….. suggestions / routes / tips welcomed…
Until next time.. ciao e amore