NEWS FROM TUSCANY - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

May 24, 2012


Hi guests,
Our 2012 season is underway, and I'm now flying back and forth to Europe, Chicago, and mostly to Lucca, Tuscany! I wandered around town and took some photos, with my phone, of some of the delicious things for sale in the historic center. . . James

















Until 10 am on designated days, delivery trucks are allowed
to drive in the city center to supply the little shops. This is the
classic three-wheeler.

The walls around the city of Lucca, Tuscany are about 2.5 miles long. Most of it is closed to automobile traffic, so the locals stroll or ride bikes everywhere. Here's a typical scene, people strolling, people on bikes, lots of people hanging out at coffee shops on a piazza. The traditional bike is a one-speed, preferably with basket for shopping, and if you have children, a bike seat in back so you can pedal them to school.

This is much fancier than a typical Lucca bike, but I liked the scene anyway, so I snapped a photo. This is in the old Roman amphitheater, now an oval shapped piazza. You can see the reflection of the other side of the piazza in the window to the right here.

First stop is always for a coffee. Here's a famous coffee bar. Caffe Di Simo was Giacomo Puccini's hangout, while he was writing Madame Butterfly and Tosca. Order a 'cafe' and you'll get a shot of espresso. A 'cafe macchiato' literally means a stained coffee, because the espresso has a 'stain' of frothy milk on top. More milk becomes a cappuccino, then more milk a latte macchiato, literally a stained milk, because this time it is a cup of milk, stained with a shot of espresso. An espresso costs about 1 euro, a cappuccino costs about 1.20. Served in a porelin cup with a real spoon and a smile 🙂

This is the bar at a very nice coffee shop.... not just coffee.... you can also order an aperitivo, which is a light alchoholic drink that the Italians might have in the afternoon.

Many coffee shops make their own pastries. The classic Italian breakfast is a cappucino and a pastry, eaten standing up at the bar with a friend, then quickly you go off about your business for the day.

There are many many little shops lining the streets. When I say little, I mean that every shop is one room, and sells one thing. The food shops are amazing. This is a typical little shop selling fine foods, like prosciutto, breads, olives, honey, stuffed peppers. In this particular shop you can also, in season, buy a fresh truffle -- he keeps them hidden behind the counter, and they are sold, wrapped in a fig leaf.

Another shop. The displays are really gorgeous.

Don't forget the wine!!!!!!!! My favorite wine shop (different than this one), has a huge cantina under the streets of Lucca, originally Roman and dating from the year 100a.d.

This shop is so specialized that it only sells meats and cheeses, and only from the Garfagnana region, just north of Lucca. (And you can also have a glass of wine here)

There are many bakeries in town. This one is really good and in the morning you take a number because there is a crowd around the counter.

Focaccia by the slice.

Don't forget the flowers!! This one-room florist is just across the street from the door to my personal apartment in Lucca. There is usually a cat sleeping on the bench.

That's all for today. Thanks for reading. PLEASE COME VISIT!!!!! And take a look at the "Our Villas" page on this website to see our new villas! Ciao ciao, James