I may be infatuated with Berlin, but I am in love with Lucca. Berlin is for now, for being young and cutting-edge as I am, but I reserve Lucca for my retirement – a place to dream away the hours, watch the world go by and sip upon magnificent cappucinos. The first time I went to Lucca, I had been married for a mere three years, was not yet in my thirties, had a salary and was able to enjoy its many pleasures on a sophisticated and grown-up level. I fell in love with its red-roofed handsomeness,
and its soaring towers,
where trees grow.
I enjoyed long, drawn-out, rather drunken lunches with my love (I could mention that my mother and my aunt were also there, but I won’t since that removes the romantic sheen of my story), naps on the wide and grassy city walls, strolls hand-in-hand through the alleyways, shopping in the delightful boutiques and coffee in the magnificent amphitheatre, where I bought a beautiful hat which I immediately put on. We climbed the Tower Guinigi with its roof of oak trees. Lucca was glamorous, relaxed, gorgeous. I felt the same way.
Last week, ten years on from my first visit to Lucca, I went back. Things have changed in ten years. I am still married but now we have three children. Children, however sweet, do not make for long, drawn-out drunken lunches. They do not make for romantic strolls and watching the world go by, nor do they make for public naps. I did not wear a glamorous hat, but a backpack containing nappies and a sippy cup. We went to the amphitheatre but our priority was finding a drink and the loo. We looked at the boutiques from the outside but did not go in since one of our children has it as her life’s purpose to separate us from our money in exchange for tat. We climbed the tower but my vertigo nearly prevented me from making it to the top. We held their hands, and not each other’s.
However, Lucca still held its magic over us. In the amphitheatre we enjoyed an icy granita while watching a ballerina dance and a boy play the violin. We viewed the town together from the top of the Tower Guinigi. We walked the city walls instead of napping there. We glimpsed the lovely restaurant Al’ Olivo where we had had our wonderful lunch. We photographed each other, wearing very big smiles,
and then we went back to Parc Albatros on the San Vincenzo road to prepare for bopping to Italian pop music at the nightly Baby Disco. Because when you have children, that’s what you do.
Lucca promised that she would wait for me.