Lucca, Carrara, Bibola, Lerici and other goings on

This year, we enjoyed Easter celebrations at Christina and Enrico’s house in Lucca.   We drove down in time for lunch and enjoyed a delightful pre-dinner Prosecco in the garden before sitting down to an enormous lunch. It was not quite as huge as Christmas, but course after course came out and by the end of it we were all quite well stuffed.  Amongst the extended family in attendance, was Enrico’s 90 year old Nonna who had an amazing memory.  We enquired about San Concordio which is the birthplace of Chris’ Dad (Bob) and she recalled a Puccetti family living on a street called “Via Formica”. Finally, something to put into the GPS!!  We left after a lovely afternoon with the relatives and drove over to San Condordio in search of the house where Bob was born.  Of course we didn’t know which one, but we found a house that looked about the right age and took a photo of it anyway.  Next, we went in search of the Lucca Cemetary to see more Puccettis.  After much driving around in circles, distant sightings of the cemetary, vague instructions from locals (who seemed to agree on how hard it was to reach) and some fun “going down one-way streets in the wrong direction” incidents…..we finally found it!  But it was closed. On the most likely day that you would be visiting a cemetary (ie a religious public holiday) they decided to lock the gates.  I guess that’s a trip for next time, if we can ever find our way back there again!

In Christina and Enrico's garden at the their home in Lucca for Easter Sunday

A dish only found in Lucca, pasta sheets with spinach, ricotta and olive oil. It's hard to convey from this photo just how delicious this tasted!

Stuffed full after a HUGE Easter lunch (Balin in the background literally inhaling an easter egg)

San Concordio in Lucca, Bob's birthplace.

Let's just call this "Dad's house". We imagined that this would be the most likely candidate on Via Formica in San Concordio

Carrara

Our good friend Lucia (who I often write about here) knows pretty much everyone in Italy. It’s a good thing too, as she’s running for Mayor of Pontremoli. We’ve been doing quite a few favours for her campaign, such as photography and design of her brochures and campaign posters, and in return she organised a VIP tour of the Carrara Marble mines.  Lucia knows the big boss, so we were driven around and given access to some pretty cool sites. The marble mountains can be recognised from a distance by their pointy and jagged shape (I call them “the pointies”) and this is because the marble has been mined from them since Roman times and actually changed the shape of the mountains.  It struck me as both beautiful and terribly sad at the same time.  This is a resource that won’t last forever, yet nobody I asked seemed at all concerned about that.  We finished our tour with a lovely lunch at a restaurant that you’d only know about if you were a local.  The food was wonderful, we even ate tripe!

Big chunks of marble piled up like toy blocks

Sitting on the marble blocks at Carrara

One of the many trucks that constantly drive up and down the hill carrying massive blocks of marble. The village in the background is the ancient Roman vilage of Colonnata, famous for Lardo

Lardo being made in Colonnata. It is fat with rosemary, cured in marble and then cut very thinly to eat on bread. It actually tastes OK, and was used to fortify the Romans in the early days of mining.

Wanna buy some Lardo? Outside one of the lardo shops in Colonnata

The marble mines at Carrara. The different colour of the marble is caused by the way it is cut

Balin (with Alice, me and Denver in the background) inside the marble cave. So much marble!

Yes, this is a solid marble 1952 Cadillac. It took 15 years to sculpt and weighs 16 tonnes, but it sits in an old shed gathering dust.

This is Carrara's version of Lasagne. Oh my goodness, it was so delicious!!

The restaurant owner in Carrara holding a tray of the local desert: a type of custard cake (a bit like creme caramel) which was very yummy indeed

Bibola, Lerici and other goings on

After we had all recovered from our nasty head colds of last week, the gorgeous spring weather enticed us out of the house for another touring adventure. Our map of the area is quickly filling up with highlighted roads with very few places left to see.  We drove up to Bibola first which is known as the “verandah of Lunigiana”, being so high up and having an incredible 360 view of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys.  Not only does it have a fine view, but an equally cool castle ruin.  It was built precariously on top of a peak and is only accessible up a ladder.  The boys enjoyed climbing around the ruins and exploring the inside of the only intact tower there.    Next, we drove on to another castle ruin at Ponzanello, which is quite close to Fosdinovo.  The ruin there takes some climbing too, but with very little time left until pranzo stopped being served (priorities!!) we left Chris to do the exploring before we all drove on to Sarzana for lunch.  We eventually ended up in Lerici late in the afternoon.  Lerici is one of those touristy seaside towns with markets, gelati shops aplenty and a lovely big castle on the cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.  We went up the steep steps of the cliff to the castle and admired the view across the bay to Portovenere.  It was such a gorgeous day to explore Lerici and we ambled around at our leisure taking in the sights, sounds (and gelati) of the town.

Bibola from a distance (OK, I admit to saying "Bibola Bibola, that's all folks!" more than once)

Chris poking his head out from inside the tower ruin at Bibola

You two be careful up there!!!

Inside the tower at the castle ruins at Bibola. Dark scary hole in foreground that little boys can not resist throwing rocks down!

All that's left of the grand entrance to the castle ruins at Ponzanello. It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Lerici and the view of the castle on the cliff

The VERY cool castle at Lerici (closed that day of course!!)

Little Denver watching the boats in the bay at Lerici

The boys gazing at the lovely blue Mediterranean

As usual, I’ll leave you with a selection of photos from other goings on these past few days. Most notable was Denver’s tick, the third one he’s had and in a very inconvenient location too.  Also, the incident with the sports equipment in the tree: a morning of throwing an assortment of projectiles, just to get one little baseball down.  Enjoy!

Aaaah! It's a tick!! Yes, it's in Denver's belly button this time. The age-old Italian remedy of olive oil worked a treat this time and successful extraction was achieved with the special tick tool (once the tick had become more agreeable from the oil)

So this is what the little bastards look like BEFORE their blood feast (we caught this one while waiting for the bus)

The tick after we removed it from Denver's belly. Note how full of blood he is. Don't worry, he paid dearly for his crime!

Crisis over and Denver is happy once more (gratuitous shower scene)

It started with a baseball, then a baseball bat, then a soccer ball. It ended with several rocks and Chris finally up the tree for the last item.

After telling me it's too dangerous to climb up the tree, who do I find up there??

It was Manuel's birthday party last Saturday

When you're upset and need sorting out, who better to talk to than your stand-in Italian Nonno? Franco to the rescue again!

....and speaking of Franco, here's one I forgot to put in last time (photo by Drew Lenman)

We found this little guy sunning himself on the patio. Isn't he gorgeous? (I mean the lizard....)

errr...no...clearly not dried fruit. In fact those are corn chips in there. Alright then.

Banks here have these cool little Tardis-like security cubicles that you have to go through to get into the bank. They trap you in there while they scan you for weapons. Apparently there's a very low incidence of bank robberies now!

A 500 euro note. Don't get to see them much. This one was mine only very fleetingly before I had to hand it over (along with its friends) for the gas bill 😦

Darling little Bay-Bay x

The boys enjoying the sunset in the back yard

Sometimes you just don't want to have your photo taken anymore....

The best for last. A lone chapel atop a hill somewhere near Cirone on the border of Lunigiana. Just beautiful!

Ciao
xx

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About missrini

Global citizen. Travel blogger. Eccentric dreamer.
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11 Responses to Lucca, Carrara, Bibola, Lerici and other goings on

  1. bagnidilucca says:

    Great pics – love the one of Bibola.

  2. Villafranca says:

    Good reading and lovely pictures as usual. Please can you name/give directions to the delicious lasagne restaurant in Carrara???

    • missrini says:

      Oh no, I just knew someone would ask me the name!! I don’t know 😦 We parked near a marble (of course!) fountain with cherubs and a naked lady and then were lead on foot to the restaurant. It was in the main part of Carrara, but a small frontage on a quiet street and looked pretty unremarkable from the outside. I will ask my friend Lucia to see if she knows the name of it. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  3. Ken Puccetti says:

    I hope you’re getting some of the recipes for those amazing dishes we keep seeing! I want to try making them when you guys come to Tassie. Nice pics again (as usual). VERY glad we don’t have those nasty tics here!!

    • missrini says:

      I’m so glad that Tassie doesn’t have ticks either! They’re horrid little critters. I shall share recipes with you of course, but will expect a nice dinner in return 🙂 xx

  4. Steve says:

    It’s certainly lovely traceling around Italy. Imagine what it would be like if things were open!

  5. Steve says:

    …okay…I meant traveling!

    • missrini says:

      Travelling is good too. Yeah, we seem to have bad luck with things not being open. It’s not the winter excuse anymore either, we just seem to run into castles under maintenance all the time! I’m not complaining though 🙂

  6. Jen says:

    I’ll have to ask Jane Kittell for a cubicle for our branch. lol

    • missrini says:

      Well I think they are a lot better than having some poor old security guard stationed outside the bank. Pretty cool too!

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