Excitement in Lucca

  • 16 April 2020
  • Prue Scott

A week of excitement here in Lucca.

I mentioned earlier that quite a few cafes and restaurants are now doing home delivery. Several of the gelato companies will now home deliver a dozen flavours in three sizes. Home-delivered food is something new here and I applaud the ingenuity. Similarly, the wonderful Giuliana at Etta’s English Bookshop photographed her shelves and sent the file for me to browse. Four real books to read – the iPad is becoming tiresome – and she delivered them to my door. Well, almost to the door. She stood on one side of Visa Pelleria and reached out her arm for me to take the bag.

Some people leave their groceries for 24 hours to let any possible virus nasty die off. This may work, but what if some of the nasties survive? Or migrate somewhere in the interim?

Italian lessons have begun with free Duolingo. I find it interesting that we’re spending so much time on people writing or reading a book, or writing in the zucchero (sugar). Why would the men be writing in the sugar? Why would the women be writing in the sugar? Why don’t the children write in the sugar? Each group of correct answers earns me a raft of icons, pings and trumpets. If anyone wishes to talk about reading or writing in sugar in Italian, please email.

You can do an awful lot of washing in a 16kg machine at the lavanderia (laundromat). It’s a 3-minute walk down Galli Tassi to the bright orange and spotless – and I mean spotless – lavanderia. You exchange your money for tokens, shove your washing in, close the door and add the tokens. The machine adds the detergent, so I guess that’s a saving. The cycle is 20 minutes. Yes, I know that seems short, but water here is expensive, despite the city being built over numerous waterways.

Having spent a few months living on Waiheke in the summer, I became very conscious of not wasting water. My landlady says the water bills from some of her guests are horrendous. And, of course, we’re now washing our hands much more frequently. Some of our public water fountains are closed, but others are open and I don’t understand why. For some things here, the reason is not evident.

Hand-delivered books from the wonderful Giuliana from Etta’s Bookshop. Such bliss to have a book rather than iPad in the hand. I’ve become a fan of Don Winslow since someone recommended the astonishing “Savages”. Excellent writing. I also have Sapiens which promises to fill many an evening.

Are we flattening the curve? I don’t know. What I do know is that the Italian government is keen to keep us all being very careful of the nasty thing we cannot see or hear. From 12 April, we must wear face masks when going out. There’s debate over their efficacy, but I wonder if it isn’t more of a visual reminder for us to take care?

Sapori – my trendy supermarket around the corner – wouldn’t let me yesterday without a face mask. They’re mandatory from next week, but also from now – some days I have trouble working things out. They gave me one made of some fuzzy material. Winter weight, possibly Arctic winter weight. VERY WARM. Glasses steamed up and I had a facial at the same time. I walked home in it and it struck me that not too long ago we would have wondered why someone had their face covered and was wearing sunglasses.

And then I saw my neck!

So, what did I buy? I know you’re dying to find out. Chicken escalopes I guess you’d call them. Thin slices of top quality chooky breast (no spattering in the pan here thank-you), spread with fresh, fragrant goats’ cheese, a chunk of red pepper and rolled in prosciutto. While they were baking, I sautéed sliced courgettes. Hmm, I thought, I wonder if a little prezzomolo* might go well with them? Big mistake. Fresh prezzomolo from the fridge leaps around the pan onto any nearby surface, turns black, and looks like mini baked kale but without the flavour, and you know how little flavour kale has. Not to be recommended. A glass of Prosecco. Or three. It’s getting warmer; you have to keep your liquid intake up.

* Prezzomolo is parsley, what we’d call Italian flat leaf parsley. Maybe it’s wrong season, but it’s rather thick, no delicate leaves to dice. It’s more like a vegetable version. Think we’ll give that a miss for a while.

Tarocco, of course. Bought quite a few and keep them in the fridge for chilled juice each morning.

Our organic farmers’ market is on this afternoon, so I will pop up to Piazza San Francesco to see what they have.

All it takes is a smart Australian (The Amazing Patricia = TAP), a spare HDMI cord and connector, and Messenger video. TAP has now got me hooked up to the TV via my phone or laptop, so I can join Netflix and watch some decent entertainment.

Next step is an Italian SIM card for the phone. Anyone in NZ knows how much more we pay for mobile calls/data; here it’s so cheap and without caps. Since I’m here for the duration, I’ll avoid the extra $200 Vodafone NZ wants each month.

My week in Berlin was over before I even got to Rome. I figured Seville would also be a non-starter, so I checked Ryanair. Yep – flight Pisa-Seville cancelled, so I put in for a refund. Next morning, an email from Ryanair advising the flight was cancelled. My return trip in early May not yet cancelled, so it appears I could get to Seville but not back. Today, Ryanair marketing are offering to rebook me up until the end of August. Clearly, there’s no piece of string between marketing and ops.

I also cancelled my hotel booking in Seville. Maria and family don’t know when they’ll re-open or what their future looks like. Promised I’d get back to Seville one day.

My pics of washing seem to have hit a chord in a Facebook group called “View from my window.”  https://www.facebook.com/groups/viewfrommywindow 


It was started by a woman called Barbara and went viral, if you’ll pardon the phrase. Now has more than 293,000 members around the world. I put up a shot and it’s had more than 2,100 comments! It’s an eclectic combination of people remembering their mother hanging out washing, family who came from Lucca, the smell of freshly dried washing, the joy of normal behaviour, and “stay safe” greetings from around the world. I am gobsmacked by the reaction. It was a quick shot in early morning sun, so nothing special.

That’s me for the time being.

Stay safe

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  • Cheryl
  • 30 Apr 2020
  • 1:17 am

A friend gave me your details as she thought I would enjoy your travel notes and I did. I really loved reading this first Travel Stuff in Lucca and will make my way through them all. if you send me an email I can email you back

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