Spring flowers & shopping for food

Friday morning, May 15th, Jim was in the altana and he called for me to come upstairs quickly. I panicked and rushed upstairs, ready for any kind of emergency, and he pointed to this beautiful double rainbow. The lower one ended on the Lucca wall. How beautiful is that!

The beauty of LuccaSpring Flowers!

undefinedWe’ve been allowed to walk on the walls of Lucca since May 4th, so we’ve had a chance to enjoy the spring flowers across town. Before May 4th, my goal was to get in at least 3000 steps per day; now, most days go well over 10000 steps.

I’ve been enjoying taking pictures, so this blog post will be a lot of pictures with a description for each.

These decorated balconies are in the Anfiteatro, one of the famous piazzas of Lucca. And you can also see a few signs that say “Andrà tutto bene!” meaning “Everything will be all right!”. Very encouraging during these days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Another decorated balcony; this one on Piazza San Michele. Soon the businesses on the ground floor will be open and the piazza will come back to life!
Beautiful roses next to one of the many old churches.
Horse chestnut trees are clustered in several locations around Lucca’s wall. This picture was taken on Festa della Mamà (Mother’s Day) with many families enjoying their time on the wall.
Palazzo Pfanner “is a palace and a garden in Lucca, Italy, now converted into a museum of art and artifacts. The building dates to 1667, and is notable mainly for its fine garden.” This wide view is from Lucca’s wall and I especially like the large tree on the right side; I think that it is a Stone Pine tree. The benches on the wall near Palazzo Pfanner are highly sought after!
And here is a closeup of Palazzo Pfanner’s fountain surrounded by statues, lemon trees in big pots, and lots of other flowers. You can also see the Guinigi Tower with its oak trees planted on top of the tower!
From the wall, we can also see Lucca’s Botantical Garden, including this pond with lots of water lilies. One of their prized specimens is a Cypress tree from Florida. There are about a zillion of these near my son’s house. Nice to see one here!
And a closer picture of some of the flowers in the Botanical Gardens.
This view from the Walls show one of the Liberty-style homes that are commonly found right outside of Lucca’s walls. This picture was taken near one of the gates which has lovely pink roses lining the road.
Beautiful flower garden on the wall
This is the back of Palazzo that we live in. It has a small garden with beautiful white roses. You can’t see our apartment from this view.
Behind our Palazzo’s garden and parking lot is this carriage house. It used to be horse stables but now is one or maybe two beautiful large apartments. I love all of the flowers on the windows. You can walk or drive through the brown doors to get to our parking lot. And the whitish tower with windows (next to the green tree on the right) is our apartment.

In past years, there have been several flower festivals/events. I’m disappointed that they weren’t held this year, but am looking forward to them in the future. And are enjoying all of the signs of Spring throughout Lucca.

Everyday life in Lucca… shopping for food

Everyday life in Lucca is different than in the United States. Some things are much better (plentiful fresh food available daily), some are worse (the bureaucracy!) and some are just different. Part of the reason that we moved to Italy was to experience these differences… In this and upcoming blog posts, I’ll talk about some of these differences. Last month I talked about the trash and recycling; this month, it’s shopping for food.

In Virginia, Jim and I had adopted some Italian food shopping habits. We went almost day to get food and purchased mostly fresh and unprocessed food (fruits, vegetables, meat, cheeses, etc.). We typically went to Harris Teeter with an occasional trip to one of the other nice supermarkets – Wegman’s, Giant, or Balducci’s when we wanted something special. We especially appreciated that many of the stores were open 24 hours and usually at least one open on holidays. It’s different in Lucca.

Some larger cities in Italy have everyday markets, such as the Central Market of Florence or the smaller and more authentic Sant’Ambrogio. Lucca has several weekly markets, but most of them haven’t been active during the coronavirus restrictions and aren’t very convenient to where we live. So we have found a set of small markets that we frequent regularly. On a given day, we may go to a few of these shops. Not very efficient, but the food we buy is local, fresh and delicious!

Coronavirus Update

The coronavirus infection rates have been under control and reducing for
several weeks. On May 4th some of the restrictions were lifted and more changes are expected on May 18th. At times it can be confusing to understand the rules and how they all interact. There are decrees set at the country level (i.e., for all of Italy), rules at the regional level (i.e., for all of Tuscany) and further clarifications and interpretations at the commune level (i.e., for
Lucca). Oh, and they keep changing… I belong to several Facebook groups for English speakers in Lucca and we all try to hash out what this all means for us. So here’s my summary of past and upcoming changes:

·        Never closed: food stores, pharmacy stores, gas stations, and other stores that sell true essentials (like wine stores!)

·       May 4th: parks opened, restaurants could begin carry out and delivery (including gelato and coffee!)

·        May 18th: most other stores that sell merchandise can open

·        June 1st: restaurants for dine in, hairdressers, barber shops, etc.

Breaking news! the June 1st openings have now been moved to May 18th. Not sure what I’m looking forward to most – dinner out or a haircut! And we can finally start decorating our apartment. 

Jim and I remain healthy and are vigilant every time we go out. 

10 thoughts on “Spring flowers & shopping for food

  1. What a special photo of the rainbow! 🌈

    For 4 consecutive years (2016-2019) we rented one of the ground floor apartments in the peach colored carriage house behind your apartment for a month to 6 weeks each year. That building actually contains 3 apartments. The entire top floor is one grand apartment where the owner and his partner live. On the ground floor there are 2 apartments, one on each side of the big brown door. Both ground floor apartments are available for rent on Airbnb & Homeaway. If you would like any more info (good and bad) on the 2 apartments in the carriage house please let me know. We had various friends who rented the second apartment so we are quite familiar with both of them.

    Looks like you found many of the same incredible food markets we like to shop. May I also suggest:
    -for fruit and vegetables: the ortofrutto in Piazza San Salvatore.
    -for an incredible selection of freshly made pasta including delicious prepared lasagna ready to pop into your oven: Pastificio Artigiano La Sfoglia D`Oro (just outside the walls at Porto San Donato on Via Sant’ Anna but well worth the walk) http://lasfogliadoro.eu/
    -for focaccia: on via Guinigi, Forno Casali

    We also found the Tambellini market (much closer to you in P San Frediano) to have a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a really good deli & prepared food counter in the back of the store with a nice selection of cheeses and meats.
    Honestly as you know there is such an abundance of wonderful places to shop for food and provisions in town.
    And when the bi-weekly market opens back up, your apartment is actually situated quite nicely – just walk out the path to the left of San Frediano (Sortita Baluardo San Frediano) to the ring road, cross Viale Carlo Del Prete at the crosswalk, walk up the short via Tinivella, and you will see the market set up across via Terza in Piazalle Baroni.
    There are also a wealth of shopping opportunities (bakeries, butchers, fish market, florists, hardware, home goods) along Borgo Giannotti across the ring road from Piazza Santa Maria. We love shopping inside the walls but have found that prices for just about everything are much less once you cross the ring road.
    So glad to hear things are getting back closer to ‘normal’ there and you have been able to enjoy walking along the walls. Have you decided where to go for your first haircut?

    • My husband shopped at Tambellini’s quite often, especially during the earliest and tightest of the lockdown days. It looks small, but they have almost everything that you need. We haven’t found a bread store that we love, so we will definitely check out Forno Casali. And I will peak at those apartments on airBnB / Homestay. If/when we ever have guests, we have one comfortable guest bedroom. If we need more space, it would be great to have our visitors stay there!

      As far as hairdressers goes, I figure that they will all be busy with their established clients. There is a new shop going on Via Mordini. I contacted her last week for an appointment, so I’m going to take a chance on her! I figure that we are both new to Lucca, so why not? (She had a shop in a nearby town before, so it’s not like she is a brand new hairdresser!)

      Thanks for all of the wonderful suggestions!


      • Well, since I have been cutting my husband’s hair for over 30 years, I can’t give you a personal recommendation for barbers in Lucca. That being said, some very stylish male friends of ours who visited us in Lucca a few years ago got their cuts here: https://www.bisb.it/. Maybe a little too ‘hip’ for our generation though?

        I have often walked by Parrucchiere per Uomo at via Antonio Mordini 59 and thought it looked like a good barber shop. Maybe he can check that out.

        But again, sorry, no personal experience to recommend. Good luck!

  2. So pretty! Love the peach and pale yellow of some of those buildings. Look just like a puzzle I am working on. Are the green window shutters actually movable or just for looks like in the states?

    • Yes, in many places it looks like the puzzles that we have been doing for years! Most of the shutters really work. People use them to help block the sun but let the breeze in. Our shutters are on the inside and we use them all of the time. And we open the windows here A LOT more than we ever did in Virginia. It cools down a lot during the night, so we keep the windows open during the night and in the morning.

    • Thanks. 🙂 We’ve been printing the blog pages and sending them to Aunt Lucy. I think that she has been enjoying seeing them.

  3. I continue to enjoy your posts. I think I want our next trip to Europe to be sure to include a visit to our friends in Bologna and in Lucca! As we get closer to that we’ll check in with you on hotels nearby. I want to see in person these places I see photos of! I’m so happy you both are getting to enjoy life there in Italia!

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