- met some wonderful new friends (Terry, Anne, Sandy, and Carolyn)
- took the train to Viareggio where I met another new friend, Ambra, and went to Torre dei Lago to the Puccini Festival
- attended the Santa Zita Flower Show down in the Anfiteatro at least 10 times
- went to Firenze for dinner
- rode to Pietrasanta with Terry and then walked on the beach with my dogs
- made cookies and did the Hokey-Pokey with my two young students
- attended two interior design shows in Lucca
- went to approximately five job placement offices
- attended an English book club meeting
- walked almost 10 miles through the wonderful town of Marlia on a villa tour followed by imbibing in vino and eating marvelous food (the imbibing started at 9:30 a.m. after we finished the walk - yikes)
- reconnected with a dear friend who I first came to Lucca with back in 2000
- got my hair cut in a radical new hairstyle
- went to an English-language library followed by a homemade lunch with friends
- went apartment hunting with Terry
- interviewed for a new job…and whew!
Oh yes, and I also continued to teach English and take Italian lessons. Actually, everything I listed with the exception of the Puccini Festival, I did in the last week! I walked over 30 miles in five days and rode my bike at least another 10. I am proud to say that I am able to wear my skinny jeans again!
On Sunday, I had friends over for wine and appetizers and we got to enjoy the liftoff of a beautiful hot-air balloon from my kitchen window. The event was held in honor of a famous Lucchese, Vincenzo Lunardi, who helped pioneer mongolfiere (hot-air balloon) flights back in the 1700s. Apparently, he flew all over the world but was ignored in his own home town of Lucca. The city is making up for their error now to the glee of residents and visitors alike.
The balloon was huge and had beautiful stripes in vivid, bright colors. When unfurled, it laid across most of the ground in the Anfiteatro. As usual, the locals and tourists ignored the caution tape and little kids had to be asked to move so they wouldn't be hurt during takeoff. To their credit, the takeoff was delayed for about three hours so that the wind would die down to ensure the safety of the pilot and crew. But still, it isn't uncommon for parents to sit at a local cafe and eat and drink while their children are left to run and play in the piazza on their own.
Speaking of safety, it has been very difficult for me to get used to the idea that there are no laws within the city boundaries to protect children and infants from being hurt on bicycles. Parents strap their infants and children into child seats on their bikes and ride all around town. Children aren't required to wear helmets and I can just envision accidents waiting to happen. The children, of course, think they're in heaven flying on the front or back of mamma's bike with the wind blowing through their hair.
It is also very common for people to walk through construction zones as if there is no danger. I've seen people walk under steel beams and cranes and duck under caution tape because they don't want to be inconvenienced in their daily routes. The construction crew stops what they're doing to ensure the pedestrians' safety.
Back to the fun stuff...this week I am going to shop at the local IKEA (pronounced eeh-kay-ah) in Florence, go to a pub quiz with friends in Livorno, go on a private wine tour and tasting in a very old winery in Lucca, go the pane (bread) festival in Altopascio followed by al fresco dining with friends at their farmhouse, and...oh yes, that's just through Sunday.
I'll try to squeeze in time to blog more often but I hope you can understand my dilemma.
Ciao from Lucca!