Lucca Part One

Trattoria Da Giulio, Lucca. September 2017.

Definitely on a par, albeit on a smaller scale, with Firenze

I’ve been to Lucca more times than I have fingers and toes to count. The old walled city is spectacular; unchanged for centuries, an untouched example of Renaissance era architecture with its narrow streets, stunning buildings and the Duomo di Lucca a most impressive cathedral dating back to 1063AD. Definitely on a par, albeit on a smaller scale, with Firenze.

The annual Lucca Summer Festival has hosted some of the world’s most talented and famous musical names, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Santana have all given their best, this summer the most famous rock and roll band on the planet, The Rolling Stones are in town. The birthplace of Puccini is hosting the band on their No Filter European tour, I’m sure he would have approved.

No prizes for guessing why I’m in town this time but, a man has to eat as well.

We were starving and tired but starving mostly

We arrived, at our Airbnb, after a ridiculously dangerous taxi journey from Pisa Airport. Our cabbie was not up for the trip to Lucca as there were several road closures around the city in anticipation of the throngs expected next day to see the Stones. After we refused to budge, he took us, his speed rarely dropping below 160kph on the motorway towards town. We thought he had lost control on one tight bend but miraculously we stayed on the road. Tosser!!!

We dropped our bags in the quaint little apartment; the building so narrow that our four rooms were on four different floors. We were starving and tired but starving mostly.

A walk of about a mile saw us inside the city walls and staring at a little pizzeria/gelateria, Mara Meo on Via Vittorio Emanuele ll, with outside seating on the opposite side of the street. I’ve probably passed this place a hundred times, however tonight we’re in. Pizzas ordered, mine with spicy salami and Italian sausage, Steven’s with prosciutto and mushrooms, washed down by a huge bottle of Moretti and my alcohol free lager it was less than €20. I’ve eaten some very special pizza in my travels; Pizza Hut in South Kensington as a spotty teenager, The Yacht Club in the Bahamas, Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, The Trianon in Naples and Paesano in my home town of Glasgow, all fantastic in their own particular style and taste. I’ve added this little pizzeria to my list of favourites, these were delicious. The waitress, a radiantly beautiful and very welcoming Tuscan nearly fell over when we left a €5 tip, so grateful.

Thank God for the walk home, I needed to burn those cheesy calories.

Next morning, breakfast in a street café was followed by a visit to a local butcher shop. After being seduced by the boss to sample some delicacies from the region; salami, cheese, olives, anchovies and bread we got a recommendation for a pre concert dinner in Da Giulio. I loved will too.

By the sound of the jolly chat these were locals, regulars and very happy diners

Just within the city walls, on the Via delle Conce, is this quite typical trattoria; simple but attractive décor combined with efficient, knowledgable and hospitable staff. It’s a funny thing but I’ve noticed that in Tuscany the preferred level of lighting at dinner in many places is bright, no mood soothing dimming here. The dining room is full and by the sound of the jolly chat these were locals, regulars and very happy diners.

The menu is a reflection of regional produce: We shared an antipasti plate with ham, salami, and warm chicken livers on bruschetta, perfect. Our ‘primi’ was even better, I had meat ravioli with meat sauce – so good I wish I’d ordered a bucketful. Steven’s spinach ravioli in a herb and cream sauce was excellent but mine stole the gold star. A veal T-bone covered with rocket & Parmigiano followed, it was wonderful;  medium rare, succulent and very tasty. As I’m one for carbs, a side order of spaghetti aglio e olio, I know double pasta,  with added chillis and roast potatoes with rosemary sealed the deal. Perfecto!!! It would have been rude to refuse desserts, tiramisu for Steven and ice cream and fruit for me, heaven. A couple of espressos and we were off to get our ya-ya’s out!!!!