Turislucca

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....

Amphitheater

A Tourist Guide Trapped at Home

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When people become professional tourist guides in Italy, some do it out of necessity, some do it as a part-time job, some do it while waiting for their ‘dream’ job to materialize. I’ve been at this profession for over thirty years for pure vocation and because I’m passionate about it. Perhaps too passionate, seeing how my family is always nagging me because I put my work ahead of household duties or personal fun. Maybe they’re right but my job is part of my life. Whenever I run into a certain old friend of mine while I’m working, he yells out, “You’re always in the streets, talking, talking, talking!!! Don’t you ever work??” And possibly, he’s right. I love my job. It’s great fun. It’s not a burden at all. In these dramatic times, when not only Italy but the...

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...