06/17/2016

Travel – Touring Italy Like An Italian

Forget guidebooks, travel is about assimilating into the culture. This was the routine in Lucca as we came to love the small Tuscan village for its mix of antiquity architecture, culture and food. It came to no surprise to follow my parents into a realtor’s office during a trip into town as they lust over real estate listings the way I do fat figs. (They have been known to leave a vacation with more than a souvenir in the new home variety).

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Pops sharing his gelato with the grandkids.

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Souvenir bought within the walled piaza.

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The villa La Palma has become a valued member of the family. If we forgot lemons at the market she provides from the lemon tree. She saves us from traveling with candles with her scent of jasmine that circulates through the house. The home is set so we can come together or have a private place to retreat. She gives us views that are painted in the art they sell at galleries within Lucca’s walled piazza. There are enough bathrooms to thwart senseless arguments about toothpaste staining the sinks. We watch Seinfeld in Italian when sifting through channels for an English speaking show becomes too exhausting. There are wine tastings with heated debates. La Palma has become the great mediator, a more luxurious, quieter form of bringing a family together over pressured holidays.

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In town you only need a few words to get by: grazzi, Si prega di and prego. Thank you, please and you’re welcome—the language I placed most importance on to Luc before he even started speaking. For more involved discussions there’s always Google translate. When I went for a haircut the stylist accommodated my pantomiming and masterfully executed the desired style. I slipped into the energy of the salon, watching the generational gaps of a young girl fiddling on her phone while she and her grandmother shared a day of primping. How a deliveryman was left to wait as the stylist attended to his client first. If we were in New York there would have been an episode.

Delivery man happily waits for a simple signature.

Delivery man happily waits for a simple signature.

I hurried home to attend to lunch–pasta, fresh bread, salad and sliced melon. Whether dining at home or out, meals play an important role here. Our first night the caretakers of La Palma cooked for us, a dinner that lapsed for four hours with more courses than a wedding. Even Luc has learned the artistry of arranging a poolside breakfast plate. Perhaps what’s most rewarding is Italy’s influence on a 6-year old. Luc soaking in the habits of La Dolce Vita before he returns to his hardwired East Coast life.

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A prepared meal at home from the caretakers.

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Caprese salad with pate.

Luc's breakfast plate.

Luc’s breakfast plate.

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