Pistoia, Montecatini and Lucca
Massive snowbanks line our street and yard-long icicles hang outside my window. The temperature hovers around ten degrees. From the Maine deep freeze, I recall a warm and sunny afternoon in the Tuscan Hills.
Ready for a relaxed roadtrip? Head for Pistoia whose medieval courtyards and turrets recall life perpetually under siege. On Sunday, family day in Italy, locals find a grassy park. Impeccably dressed toddlers ride the carousel as proud parents and grandparents look on, waving that funny Italian backwards wave. Sweet, yeasty aromas will draw you into Pasticceria “GG” to watch the baker rolling triangles for Sunday brioche.
In beautiful Montecatini visit the “termi,” or ancient thermal baths. Check out the healing mineral waters, said to cure everything from kidney stones to gout. In the off-season, the legendary spas are used for over-the-top nuptials, with bride and groom swanning around columned façades, opulent flower arrangements and fancy cars.
Then on to lovely Lucca, an ancient walled city. Once inside the gates of its mostly pedestrian center, admire the delicate swirling columns on the Duomo de San Martino. Try to find two columns alike – it’s a challenge. Savor a long lunch in the Corte Portici. Don’t miss the signature pork tortelli, densely meaty and flavored with nutmeg. Order a carafe of “vino da casa,” house wine, red or white – in Tuscany, it’s always a treat. •