Newyorktoitaly

Ciao Readers!

It’s been awhile!  So, the title of this post is a play on the title of my blog, and a preview of some hopefully exciting blogs to come.  I am off to New York next week to run the NYC half marathon (check out the very cool course – map below).  As you all may remember from my other posts about running, I am no world-class athlete, so I got into this race the old-fashioned way – by getting my name drawn in a lottery.  It was very exciting to get the email this past December telling me I had made it in.

Now, I have to tell you I was worried about going, as I (had) an upcoming jury trial in April.  I thought I was cutting it close, but would make sure I was well-prepared in advance.  Then what do you know – the trial just got reset for June.  While that was rather disappointing, suddenly I had a big swath of open time….and lots of miles saved up…..and the ongoing dream of going back to Italy (to language school in Lucca to be precise)….  It seems as though the universe wanted me to go…..so after NYC I am off to try and remember how to speak Italian (and I am certain, take a cooking class or two).  Stay tuned!

A Town Called Lucca

Ciao Readers!  And Happy (early) Birthday Selma!

The last weekend of Steve’s break we took a trip to Lucca, a little less than an hour and a half by train from Florence (thanks again for the spare ticket, goal42). Lucca is a lovely little Tuscan town, completely encircled by a wall (built for defense purposes in the 1500 – 1600’s), and laid out in its original ancient Roman street plan (rectangular grid).  You have to walk through one of the cool “portas” (gates) to enter the town (the one we walked through is pictured).

As with many of the smaller towns we’ve visited in Italy (Orvieto, San Miniato), Lucca had a much friendlier and more relaxed vibe than Florence.  I can’t help but think that if we were living in one of the smaller towns we’d be having a different (i.e. less stressful) experience.  Part of the charm of Lucca is its wall, the top of which has been turned into a tree-lined park, complete with running trail.  More of the charm of Lucca comes from its nearly car (and dog poo) free streets; you can actually take a leisurely stroll without fear of being either being run over or of taking your eyes off the sidewalks to admire the amazing architecture.  Ahhhhhh…..

Of course, it never hurts adding a fabulous lunch into the mix.  I had found Piccola Osteria Lucca Drento online, and it had glowing reviews in both English and Italian.  While it is a tiny place (hence the name), the quality of food was suburb and we had a long, relaxing and delicious meal.  Below is a photo of our gorgeous salumi and cheese antipasti (which came with the first multi-grain bread we’ve been served in Italy).  Now, I’ve had my share of pork products since we arrived, so believe me when I tell you the charcuterie on the platter was exemplary – even the two prosciuttos had completely unique flavors from one another.  Add in a couple of secondi (pork with mushrooms for Steve, baccala [cod] with ceci [garbanzo beans] for me), some vino, and finish with the requisite cafes – YUM!

After lunch we strolled the town for a while, encountering winter festivities including an ice-skating rink, and happening upon several interesting churches (every town in Italy seems to have these cool old churches, Lucca just seemed to have more than usual, and they are really old – 11th through 13th centuries).  Notice the interesting detail in the columns and the mosaic (both created in the 13th century!)…. (as usual, it was cloudy/hazy, so forgive the flatness in the photos):

As always, thanks for coming along on our trip!

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