If you venture out on the evening of 5th January in Lucca city you might think time has stood still as you hear the clip clop of horses' hooves and the beating of drums later to be joined by "Zampogne", bagpipes played by shepherds who come down from the hills for Christmas and New Year. If you follow your ears you might catch sight of three wonderful strong horses with their regal mounts being lead around the city by drummers. Sometimes when I am walking late at night in Lucca I feel I have wandered onto a deserted film set. The vision of these gentlemen from the Orient confirms that Lucca is no film set but a city steeped in tradition.
The three Magi are in the city because of course it is Epiphany but in Italy there is a beautiful fairytale as well. The Kings meet on their journey an old woman and tell her they are on their way to Bethlehem; she wants to join them but first need to finish her cleaning being a good Italian housewife and bake for the new born baby. She therefore because of her limp and age can’t keep up with the kings and gives the biscuits to all the children on her journey. Today Befana is still a very important holiday and Children receive presents if they haven’t been good. Until recently children had to write a letter to their parents asking forgiveness for their misdemeanors of the last year. The Befana then might decide to leave coal in their stocking instead of biscuits and candy. Here in Lucca there are special biscuits with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top. Befana was also on the streets today near to the Kings distributing gifts to the children and scaring the timid ones with her broom but be sure she, like this city, she is benign and welcoming so Happiness and Peace to you all in 2016.