Yes, August is here. It is the month when the land yields its ripest, juiciest fruit and vegetables. And so we meet up, once again, with our medieval farmer in the loggia of the Duomo of San Martino in Lucca, who is hard at work and introduces us to the theme of this month, the agriculture of Lucca and territory.
If you think that our friend the farmer had to move many kilometers away from the city walls to cultivate land, you couldn’t be more in error. Lucca, just like many other Italian cities, always had cultivated land and gardens both inside the walls and in the green defensive space encircling the exterior of the walls and bastions.
Proof of this can be found inside the cathedral. There is a marble relief which is part of the Altar of Liberty. This sculpture is of the highest quality and was made in 1577 by the artist Giambologna, a Belgian who became a naturalized Florentine. In it, we see the walls of Lucca as they were at the end of the sixteenth century. In front of the walls, there are a series of well-tended gardens, geometrically precise and well-defined. Documents and drawings in the State Archives tell of the difficulties the government of Lucca encountered when building the defensive walls especially near the plots of land belonging to the influential families of Lucca.
We can still find gardens within the city walls and fairly close to the cathedral. To admire a very particular garden, in an extremely suggestive setting, we suggest you visit the Botanical Garden of Lucca. In addition to housing old and exotic plants from all over the world, there is also a garden where all sorts of local vegetables and greens can be admired.
Which local products can we still find today in farmers’ markets? To find out, now, we must move out into the nearby countryside to taste peaches, tomatos, beans