Book "Poems of Geppe"

The Poems of Geppe

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I’d like to continue to speak about a tourist guide’s tools of the trade. The more you have filed away the better, therefore knowing something about literature and poetry can come in handy. Today, I’m going to talk about something a bit more particular, poetry written in the vernacular of Lucca. This is a difficult subject to broach with visitors, albeit Italian, because the regions of Italy have many different dialects, or perhaps it might be more appropriate to say, different languages. I was born in Milan, my mother’s surname was Bassetti, and when I was twelve, I had to change ‘language’ and become ‘Lucchese (1) ’ very quickly. I must admit that I haven’t been able to change the way I pronounce ‘s’ so when I say certain words, my northern Italian accent seeps through. However, my father,...

Ingredients for Seafood spaghetti

A Tourist Guide Who Also Knows His Way Around a Kitchen! Seafood Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams

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In Spring, Italians love strolling by the beautiful seashores close to their towns to soak in those first rays of warm sunshine. This year, however, we are all locked inside our homes because of Covid-19. Do you think we spend the long boring days watching tv or washing our cars? Reading books? Or, heaven forbid, exercising? No! We are cooking and preparing the most delectable meals. Even if I’m not the ‘MasterChef’ of my family (my father, mother, and in particular, my grandmothers were wonderful cooks), I know how to survive in difficult times like these. So thinking about the seaside and the warm sunshine, I’d like to share with you a simple, but very tasty dish of pasta with seafood: Pasta allo scoglio with mussels and clams. Scoglio are the rocks in the sea. When you mix the seafood sauce with the spaghetti, the...

Painting by Pompeo Batoni

Pompeo Batoni? A ‘homespun’ analysis of a Lucchese painting

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My last post was dedicated to the diary of the painter Georg Christoph Martini. In it, I stated that it was probable that Georg had been a teacher to the young painter Pompeo Girolamo Batoni of Lucca. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Batoni was the most celebrated and famous Italian painter of portraits and allegorical and mythological subjects of the 18th century. Batoni was born in Lucca on 25 January 1708 and died in Rome in February 1787. In Rome, the Eternal City, he mastered the art of painting and was bestowed with many honors and accolades, and most certainly great sums of money based on the numerous and pressing requests he received for his paintings by noblemen, princes, and wealthy international and national merchants. In his workshop, located in Via del Leone, the apprentices labored to follow...

Drawings Travel To Tuscany

A precious book by Georg Christoph Martini

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I started this series of brief articles by explaining why I chose to become a tourist guide. Leaving aside sentiment and rhetoric dictated by the moment, I’d like to present to you some of the sources of my modest, yet handy, knowledge. My library for example.  Two plain sets of shelves, purchased at IKEA, similar to what you find in households everywhere.  It is packed with books stacked double file, almost all of them regarding the history and territory of Lucca. There is one that is especially dear to me and I’d like to tell you about it.  It was written by Georg Christoph Martini, an 18th-century painter and chronicler, during a trip to Tuscany. My copy is a second edition published by Maria Pacini Fazzi and is a fount of information regarding life and society in 18th-century Lucca....