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...

An empty street of Lucca

A Ghost Town…for Now

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We have never lived in times like these.  In a matter of days, actually hours, the virus called coronavirus or Covid-19 has changed the life of every single Italian. When the elderly, like our parents/grandparents, were children, they lived through times of war, strife, and hunger. This too is a war, but against a deviously underhanded and invisible enemy that has insinuated anguish and uncertainty into our lives. The streets and squares are deserted.  The shops are shut.  People are locked away in their homes, small or large, ugly or beautiful. Even the grand historical buildings, which we talk about passionately on a daily basis, seem not to exist anymore.  They’ve disappeared from our minds and have been replaced with bigger fears and problems.  The buildings are now dormant, awaiting our return.  And looking around, we realize that this...

Cammellias in the garden

Camellias and their Surroundings

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Spring is in the air. The countryside of Lucca is characterized by the elegant, variegated and multicolored camellias in full bloom. In these days, the ancient villas of Lucca used to open their gates to their remarkable ‘secret’ gardens to welcome lovers of art, architecture, history, and beauty, including the spectacular Villa Reale of Marlia (recently restored) and the exquisite Villa Torrigiani of Camigliano, both of which have extraordinary camellia plant collections. Castelvecchio di Compito and Pieve di Compito are picturesque hamlets located just twenty minutes away from Lucca, immersed in olive groves with small babbling brooks of spring water, descending from the Monti Pisani (Pisan Hills). The residents of this area have transformed their private gardens, big and small, and communal areas into an authentic and unique park where the Camellia, in every shape, form, and color, is...