Billie and Ken
So, our good friends Billie and Ken arrived the same afternoon that my parents left. Fortunately for the housekeeper (me!) they were not staying with us but rented an amazing apartment on the other side of Lucca, only a 10 minute cycle away. We were very envious when we checked them into the apartment; as it had everything we'd wanted from an Italian apartment – a terrace, gorgeous high ceilings and a grand entry.
We immediately kicked off proceedings with a glass of bubbly. Ken is amazing, well into his 80’s yet still driving in Italy. We escorted him to the nearest Enoteca (Italian wine shop) and from there he had everything all worked out. The following morning he announced that he’d done a lap of the wall and had already seen half of Lucca! From here, their trip took a turn for the worse. That afternoon whilst enjoying an aperitivo in their gorgeous apartment, Billie tripped and hit her head on the corner of a wrought iron stand. OUCH!! Blood everywhere, we were all in shock. Thank god for Billie being a former Director of Nursing at Warnambool hospital, she knew exactly what to do. Although a little reluctant at first to trust Emergency and the Italian Hospital system, that’s exactly where we went for stitches and a precautionary CAT scan. 4 hours later and close to midnight we were allowed to go home. I’ll add at this stage that Marino acted as interpreter and sat with Billie for the 4 hours, while Ken and I had a lovely evening over a pizza and a local bottle of red. What else could we do? They only allowed 1 extra person to be with her, and after all they were on holidays.
There will be no photos for this story as needless to say when bruising came out on Billie’s eye and face, cameras were banned! Despite the incident, we did have a lovely 6 days together, even cycling the wall and showing them both some of our favourite spots. Unfortunately I think Lucca will be a dirty word in Billie’s mind for some time.
The Dymond’s of Mt Eliza (aka the DoME’s)
Shortly after our return from our pilgrimage my brother Chris his wife Georgie and my 2 nieces Grace (12yrs) and Olivia (9yrs) arrived in Lucca. I was so excited to see them; this was their first big European adventure. They’d had 5 days in Rome before Lucca and were full of stories to tell - well Livy sure was! We spent the next 9 days doing all things Lucchese.
Grace and Livvy – guess where?
We started with a shopping trip to the local market (just outside our front door). I think everyone made purchases this day – even Chris and Marino!! There were bargains to be had; Grace purchased a couple of dresses for €10 each, Georgie found some really nice shorts and Liv bought sunglasses and a purse. Chris made the most purchases with 2 pair of jeans, 2 pair of shorts, a linen shirt and a t-shirt, all for only €150!! I was under instruction from Mandie to get him sorted so I think this did the trick.
Marino and I love the idea of the Italian family Sunday lunch so it seemed the perfect thing to do. We took a trip to the countryside for our own family lunch. Villa Bongi is a gorgeous old villa with amazing views and the food‘s not bad either.
Then, we had a day at the beach in Viareggio, Italian style. The bagno or beach club of our choice offered a massive umbrella, 2 day beds, 2 deck chairs, 2 director’s chairs and a coffee table – not forgetting the swimming pool. All this with a stream of door to door salesmen dropping by, selling their fake Prada bags, sunglasses and even a personal masseuse - Georgie was in heaven. Grace and Livvy loved the pool, which just seemed wrong to me with the Mediterranean Sea at our feet. After a delicious bowl of pasta and a bottle of wine for lunch, everyone was happy!
We hired bikes to make the journey out to Pitarello (the shoe supermarket I’ve mentioned a number of times), again purchases were made by all but Grace was the winner with 3 pair of shoes!! Returning from this trip I was reminded of Frauline Maria as we cycled in line along the wall under the shade of the oak trees – I almost broke into song ‘Doe a deer, a female deer ……..’
Livvy awaiting the cantuccini biscotti!
And to complete our tour of Lucca there was the occasional church visit and a gelato or 2 or 3 ………
We ate we drank, it was short but sweet, and I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did!