Saturday, March 29, 2008

In love with Lucca, the Italian City (not the person on the second floor)

This weekend we drove to Lucca, a town an hour away from Florence that was recommended to me by a few of my new Florentine friends. When my Italy guide book described it as the most beautiful city in Italy, I was skeptical....would it be as enchanting as my new home town?

We decided to explore this town on the humble pushbike and funnily enough, the lady that ran the bike shop lived in Australia 30 years ago in Fremantle, a town that is ten minutes from where we live in Perth - what is it they say about the world being so small?

We hopped on our bikes (Without the stress of helmet hair - helmets are not compulsory or even suggested!) and rode through this amazing town that has easily gone on my top ten towns in the world. Not only was the town and it's city walls just as enchanting and beautiful as the guide book suggested, but it is a town that is famous for fritole, a deep-fried doughnut that even has a nutella option. We tried both varieties just as they came out of the hot oil. I had no idea fried nutella could be so delicious! The doughnut seller was so delighted as I stood there with nutella all over my hands and face telling him that this was heaven - a messy heaven but heaven nonetheless. He smiled and wisely kept handing me serviettes.

Our relaxed carefree day of eating doughnuts, fritto misto (mixed seafood grill) and sitting in the warm sun soon turned into a stressful experience. I decided there and then that I was going to conquer my fear of driving in Italy and get us home from Lucca back to Florence.

This would be the first time I would drive on the wrong side of the road - remember in Australia we drive correctly (!) on the left hand side. The whole thing felt weird from sitting on the wrong side of the vehicle, to changing gears with my right hand and me constantly swerving to the right and eventually hitting the curb (let's hope the car hire company is not reading this).

Dear husband felt like he was with a learner and not someone that has been driving for 11 years. So, after one argument and about five cars tooting me, we finally pulled up into our safe-haven (the garage). I didn't realise just how stressed I was as when I got out my legs were physically shaking. But now I can go back to Australia saying I have driven not only through busy central London but also through the crazy maniac Florence streets with Italian street signs that I can't read. This is a big achievement considering we have lived in Karratha for the last four years, a town with not even one set of traffic lights.

I have to make a quick mention of Friday night. I told my husband I was going to cook a casual meal at home but at 4pm I had this urge to go out (this happens after I have been sitting at home alone for 9 hours straight!). So the apartment staff booked us a very traditional Florentine restaurant and so far, it is the best restaurant I have been to in Florence.

As soon as we walked into Omero and my husband had to duck his head so he wouldn't hit the twenty prosciutto hanging from the ceiling, we knew we were in for a true Florentine meal. The highlight of my meal could have easily been the antipasti of meats and pates. It could also have been my Florentine style pigeon. But the easy winner was in fact the unbelievable dessert. Initially I was so disappointed that they did not serve tiramisu, but I was so glad they didn't as I have never ever eaten a dessert like this - marscapone and ricotta cheesecake that was so perfetto that I was lost for words. There is just no other way to describe it and when my tastebuds woke me up on Saturday morning I started planning when we would go there again and if it would be wrong of me to order the same cheesecake for antipasto, primi and secondi courses.


erin said...

why oh why did we have to go on a Sunday when everything was closed?! I have to go back just to get these mouthwatering donuts!

Glad you had such a great time :)

garrick field said...

sounds like you are now ready to drive in Lima, you'd fit in perfectly!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mon - I have just spent the last half hour captivated by your Blog, you write sooo beautifully. My mouth is watering and my nose is filled with the smell of a fried nutella donut! YUM. Keep up the wonderful stories.
Love, Narelle and Ella xx