Friday, September 23, 2011

Puccini Museum Lucca

For well over a month now the atmosphere in Lucca has been humming with Puccini. There are big placards all over the city proclaiming  “Il Maestro torna a casa” (The Maestro returns home). This phrase caused great hilarity in the bar below my office over breakfast when the posters first appeared the reason being the connection with a classical Neapolitan song  “Torna”, where the singer abandoned by a lover tells how the house is waiting for her return. The rather hapless implication was that the ghost of Puccini was returning.

 Anyway despite this rather unfortunate lapsus all Lucchesi enthusiastically anticipated the re-opening of the museum, which is housed in the apartment where Puccini was born and spent his childhood. The grand opening was on 13th September and the Piazza was abuzz from early morning with banners being hung from the palazzo behind Puccini’s statue. This sadly created confusion amongst the tourists whom not surprisingly assumed it was the museum. In fact Puccini’s flat is in a small side piazza, Corte San Lorenzo, 45 degrees behind the statue. Huge red, white and green flower arrangements were placed in front of a stage, where chairs and music stands were ready for the musicians and seats where put in rows for the local dignitaries. The final sounds checks were done and all the bars and restaurants used the same white linen tablecloths. The piazza waited in a hush for the celebrations to roll. 

I felt a little disappointed that this great and important event wasn’t celebrated by a soprano or tenor singing Puccini’s best-loved arias but a brass band. Now to be fair the band played very well but the very few bits of Puccini were very unimaginatively arranged. Despite this it was a great occasion.

A local restaurant named “Puccini” however redressed the balance and put on a wonderful evening of theatre telling the love story between Il Maestro and his wife Elvira through words and his arias. During the performance we could see that  “Il maestro” had indeed returned home as he was seen at the window. I very much look forward to using my invitation to visit the museum when all the fuss has died down.


Puccini Museum – Corte San Lorenzo, Lucca
Opening Times
From April to October: 10am - 6pm
From November to March: 11am - 5pm
Closed on Tuesdays and December 25

Ticket prices
Full price 7.00 Euros, Concessions 5 Euros
If you are interested in Puccini you might also like to read: 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Summer Fruits From My Tuscan Garden at Le Mura

I read blogs and wonder at the writers' energy and organisational skills. Not only do they sit at computers producing well-turned phrases but work and look after their families and produce wonderful homemade products. I admit to being lazy and sinking onto the sofa of an evening with a book instead of turning the bounty of our land into wonderful things. However this year thanks to a generous harvest at le Mura and a dear friend staying, the producing became a social event, so we really got it together. Our guests at Le Mura and the wild boar just couldn’t even make a dent into our large crop of figs so with a bit of mixing a matching of recipes we produced what I think is the most amazing fig and ginger jam. In my opinion the ginger and cinnamon really added that je ne sais quoi quality. We were further boasted in our endeavours when we realised the price per kilo for figs in the local shop is nearly 8 Euros

The walnuts have also been incredible and now on a run, we have been determined that the boar and the squirrels will share them this year. My daughter is not too certain about the stain on her hands but the prospect of a chocolate and pear tart soon puts any complaints aside. The pears too just keep coming and are served with cannella (cinnamon) at breakfast but the most popular use of our produce is my husbands divine wild peach sorbet.

Never again will I be lazy but hey we need a bigger freezer!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beautiful Montecatini Spa Plays Host To Italy’s Beautiful Girls For Miss Italia 2011

photo Rich-B-S on Flickr

This year’s rules to enter the Miss Italia Pageant reads more like the entry requirements for the Renaissance Women Competition. The new Miss must be a truly rounded lady, the sort that one is more likely to meet in the pages of Jane Austen or Henry James than on a modern catwalk.
The days of the brash, dare I say it, slightly vulgar Miss with huge blown up boobs and even last years winner with her tattoos are over. The new Miss must be modest, educated and beautiful. Below are the ten requirements that the most beautiful girl in Italy must posses:

Must not be a showgirl.
Must be well-informed and read newspapers and magazines and not just the gossip columns.
Must read at least 3 books a year.
Better size 44 (USA 14, UK 16) than too thin.
Dress modestly.
No obvious plastic surgery like boobs and lips.
No piercing or tattoos.
No heavy makeup or coloured contact lenses.
No too overlong or bright nails.
Only moderate us of Mobile and SMS. 
Artistic talent will also be taken into consideration.

Three finalists have already been thrown out after the judges saw photos of them in risqué poses.

Sophia Loren, the Queen of all Miss Italia’s is surely the perfect example of beauty and brains, though I fear she too has been a little too tempted by the alchemy of the plastic surgeon in recent times to please this year’s judges.

UPDATE : 2oth September 2011
The winner of Miss Italia 2011 is Stefania Bivone ( Miss Calabria) She is a size 44( US 14, UK 38) and her favourite book is A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks.