Hidden Tuscany: Walk and talk

With the arrival of spring, many communities have run/walk events to raise money for good causes or just to have fun. You can see the flyers posted all over, like this one:

These events are mostly non-competitive, great for all ages and a wonderful way to see the surrounding areas of Tuscany. Each is very different, some well organized and others well, not so much! A recent walk in the center of Capanori had people walking around every which way, most with no idea where they were supposed to go! But not to worry, everyone had fun, enjoyed the conversation and the walk and the benefits of the event went to local Lions Clubs throughout the region.

For those who do organized walks or run in the United States, be prepared: These aren’t quite as serious as the ones in the United States. But the good news is they don’t cost near as much either! Typically they are about €3. Just walk up, find a table of local volunteers and get a sticker. You’re in!

The other thing that is very different is true Italian culture is evident throughout. The vendors with booths at the party after the walk include local products from honey to prosciutto or even wine! You won’t find many “energy bars” offered here. Snacks along the way often include lemons, chocolate even fried bread. One event offered a nice bean soup for participants when they finished. The bags for walkers at the end don’t include fancy products. Instead, I’ve seen gifts of pasta and even toilet paper! Yes, very different from America, I’d imagine.

This past Saturday, on a gorgeous Spring day, more than a 1,000 people arrived in Marlia (just 6 KM north of Lucca) for a walk of either 3km, 8 km, or 11 km, that wandered through the villas in the hilly region. Look at these beautiful views and the amazing villas.

 

These walks are a great way to enjoy the local community. You can practice your Italian by listening to the lively conversation. You can experience the mix of generations and enjoy seeing parts of the region that aren’t the normal tourist experience.

And for those interested in seeing the same villas as this walk, should come to Lucca on April 28 for a marvelous annual event repeats this walk with so much more. It’s called the Marcia delle Ville and it will include thousands of people walking the hills of this region. All the Villas offer free admission inside and walkers can go as short as 7km and as long as 28km to tour these amazing structures of historic Lucchese culture.

Whenever you come to Lucca, check out the flyers, find a walk and experience the community like a local! You’ll not be disappointed.

Be local: Visit a street market

Weekly street markets in Italy! How fun. Anywhere in Italy you visit you will find one. Each community holds these markets on different days. It is best to check with locals for information.

In Lucca the street markets are held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Though some may linger, most start closing around 12:30 p.m. By 1 p.m. they are done for the day.

Mind you, they are not “flea markets” or used items. These markets feature new merchandise. You can find anything from the freshest cheese to fancy dresses and garden plants. But there is so much more: kitchen items, home decorating, make-up, toiletries, etc. Each week I try to go one of the two days, usually on Saturday mornings so I can buy the fruits and vegetables I will need for the weekend. And of course, I will always find something else that is “just what I was looking for.”

Prices are good. The merchandise can be on the economical side but sometimes you will find stands that sell high-quality clothing at a very reduced price because they are selling “stock” items they bought in one big bulk and can sell it at a very reduced price.

Italians are used to street markets; it’s part of the culture. So what better way to see the local population than at a street market? I would say the majority are women but many have their husbands tagging along, waiting for the time to get back in the car and go home and have lunch. How typical it is to find someone you know and haven’t seen for a long time. You see people from all walks, the young, old, Italians and non Italians, children wanting to buy everything that attracts their attention, animals to be adopted (I almost brought another kitty home the other day but I didn’t think my husband would be too happy). It really is a fun part of the Italian culture. Next time you are here, make it a point to go. You will be happy you did!

The surprising gem of historic Lucca

In a one-of-a-kind region like Tuscana, the city of Lucca is a gem, like the diamond at the center of a beautiful wedding ring.

The amazing walls that surround the Centro Historico, provide a ribbon of natural beauty around a city as if protecting the deep treasures of art, history and cuisine that reside within.

This picturesque city can be enjoyed walking through the narrow cobblestone roads or with a bike tour that captures beautiful view spots.

Getting to know Lucca can be a very memorable experience.  Many of you have probably never heard of Lucca, or maybe someone just mentioned it to you.  You will be surprised if you decide to spend some time here. It’s a small city, but it lacks in nothing. This Great location is close to other vital areas of Tuscany like the Pisa International Airport, beautiful beaches and the nearby mountains.  

The historical center is a beautiful place to stay for your first time in Lucca. Pick among the many hotels, BnBs, and vacation properties. The city will surprise you in a very positive way. If you decide to stay in the town center, there is no need for a car. Just put on your comfortable walking shoes or rent a bike and start enjoying the good Italian life.

Lucca offers many excellent restaurants, café’s (no Starbucks), museums and theatre (it’s not Broadway). UNESCO recognises the city as the city of music. Once you have discovered the historical center, plan on visiting its countryside covered by lush vegetation, vineyards, and olive trees. Take a train to the Garfagnana mountains and stop for lunch in one of the many villages. And when you are in the mood for a large city, hop on the train and go to Florence or Pisa to enjoy the wonders of the Renaissance. Coming to Lucca can indeed be an experience!

Visit my tours page to add your name to the likes of Puccini, Dante, and even Julius Ceaser himself, all of whom make up part of the incredible history and culture of Lucca.