Monday, 20 August 2012

Prokofiev in Lucca

Rolling Tuscan hills, curving narrow roads, ramparts around the city, inside the walls are white marble and red brick. We gaze enraptured at the paintings, gleaming Fra Lippo Lippi, oil on panel, four saints (Helena, Jeremy, Rocco and Sebastian) standing in graceful attitudes, a moment captured forever. I tried to take a pic, not very successfully... there was a young French couple equipped with most professional camera, we had a pleasant chat about the saints (!). Above my picture attempt. It does offer an impression of the glorious rich colours.
Spied another Madonna Lactans in fresco here too. She was higher up the wall than her colleague in Scarlino, but here you go:

I don't have the Green Guide to hand, and can't recall the name of this church (perhaps San Giovanni ?) (It wasn't the duomo, where we admired the sculpted figure lying in eternal peace of the young wife (died aged 27) of count Paolo of Lucca, later known as the Tyrant.) She is beautiful. Gracious white marble, total serenity, small dog lying at her feet -- note, her feet not actually on the dog, which is a kind of pug. Her pet, perhaps?
Then a tour of the Palazzo Mansi, now a museum, fine collection of paintings (several Fiamminghi) and a few stunning four-poster beds. But whether really comfortable the whole night long...?
With the assistance of several most helpful Luccanese we uncovered the small restaurant Gigi, where much home-made cooking takes place. And very fine it was. The venue for the proposed concert was in the Oratorio degli Angeli Custodi (Oratory of the Guardian Angels) and thither we sped after our meal. The concert was a piano recital, nineteenth-century composers -- Brahms, Liszt, Debussy, Scriabin and Prokofiev. Young pianist aged twenty, a delicate-looking blonde Italian... THEN: amazing powerful arpeggios, up and down the keyboard she raced, flawless technique, stunning virtuosity. A delight. The audience cheered. We wish her a flourishing future; here she is, Chantal Balestri, born in Massa, Tuscany.

Most enjoyable. We walked back to the car, parked outside the city walls of Lucca, through the warm night air. Home through the silent hills.

The next day, Saturday, is the weekly change-over at the fattoria. We all packed our cases, rucksacks and bagged the food in the kitchen, then transported everything to our new abode, larger and cooler than where we'd lodged during the first week. Today Machteld and Shula fly back to Amsterdam, and the six of us (four adults and the two grandsons) spend another four days here before we too fly away over the hills...
Still very hot outside but thick walls protect us from the sun's rays.
David made a wonderful risotto a couple of days ago, some of which we turn into a salad, and eat outside in the shade. (Must get some more food pix!)
From time to time we nibble delicately at snippets of Turkish Delight brought by David (from Istanbul of course...) And we sample local Tuscan wines. Preferably white, which we can drink chilled...

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