Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lucca Comics & Games report - part 1

Lucca, in Tuscany, is where the second installment of my long-awaited, convention-intensive holidays is taking place.
I'm travelling by train this time, with my ol' buddy Flavio - Japanese speaker, martial artist, manga enthusiast, and all-round weeaboo extraordinaire. Since our respective jobs kept both of us busy till the very last minute, we'll be staying for the next two nights in Viareggio (which is a delightful little seaside town in its own right) and commute daily between here and nearby Lucca.

Lucca is about 280 Km from Milano; the yellow pin on the coast is Viareggio.

Although I'm too much of a metropolitan creature to consider living there, it is one of my favourite towns to visit, and a quick hop to Wikipedia will tell you why - it was founded in pre-Roman times by the Etruscans, and traces and mementos of its long history are strewn round every corner.
You'll be sure to find ancient buildings here as well... 

S. Michele in Foro, peharps the most famous church in Lucca. See all those colums? They are all different

...and picturesque squares, starting with the famous Piazza dell'Anfiteatro - the perfectly round square that is Lucca's most iconic view.

Practically all streets here can be expected to be evocatively narrow, and to have awesome names to boot such as Via Buia ("Dark Street"), often reminiscent of some long-lost feature or landmark (such as a well, a ditch, an orange tree, or a particular workshop.)

Although there are no gryphons to be seen and fountains are nothing to write home about, you get mosaics...

S. Frediano, the most ancient church in Lucca, dates back to 685 b.C.

...and columns...
See what I meant about the columns?

...and above all, these impressive city walls that always make me feel like I'm stepping right into the Middle Ages just by entering town.

Even if Lucca can't boast a theme hotel for chocoholics to bask into, it does have gorgeous bakeries that are every bit as drool-worthy!
The town's most traditional sweets are nicely rounded up in the pic below: on the top shelf you can see panforte (a dense, spicey sort of fruitcake); the pie-like things on the middle one are torte coi becchi (the one on the left is filled with a mixture of rice and chocolate, while the one on the right has a veggie jam filling); finally, both the loaves and the round shapes displayed on the green cloth are buccellato, a sweet bread with raisins.

Lucca, and Tuscany in general, has a long-standing tradition for artistic pottery. Colourful ceramic plates and cups arranged in beautiful displays are a common view, and make for a perfect gift for a fellow cake lover... or for yourself!

The same can be said about woodworking, so if rustic's more your style you could find yourself the proud mommy of a pestle or rolling pin hand-carved out of olive-wood.
(I was soooo tempted myself... but I would have felt a little bit self-conscious, travelling by train with a friggin' huge rolling pin sticking out from my luggage!)

Oh, and one final thing: should you find yourself in Lucca, look for the Baricentro in Via Fillungo. It is a humble, smallish cafeteria, but if you as for a "marocchino con la Nutella" you're in for a treat!

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