Over the past weeks I have slowly been writing a review of our our family trip to Italy in May. Today, I continue sharing our adventure with you:
As I mentioned in my previous post, we added Lucca, which is in the north west of Tuscany, to our itinerary because of its well reviewed old town and large antique market. Here's a blurb about the market from the Summer in Italy website:
"Lucca hosts the region's second biggest antique market. Its strength (shared by many other Tuscan towns) lies in its setting among the town's lovely streets where bread chests, cupboards, bedside tables, armchairs and hundreds of other objects are on display, where even a new object looks like a valuable antique. The market takes place on the third weekend of the month: in addition to furniture, you can find XIX-century linens, vintage postcards, antique china and World War I memorabilia."
We found that while Lucca certainly had a tourist population, it didn't feel like it was overrun (unlike some of the other towns we visited in Tuscany). The town center was a labyrinth with twisted streets and uneven blocks - I found myself turned around so many times. Rick found his bearings quicker than I did, but it was challenging.
On Thursday evening I ate my favorite meal from our entire trip at a restaurant in the city center. I had read some glowing reviews for Da Pasquale online and so I called to make a dinning reservation with them before we left home. The restaurant owner and the chef are proponents of the slow food movement, so we knew we were in for a treat. For my main course I ordered Filetto al aceto balsamico e fragole - A steak with a balsamic reduction garnished with strawberries. It was heavenly - I still dream of it! If you ever stop in Lucca, please eat here, and be prepared for some great food! (Reservations are recommended.)
Saturday morning I woke up early, excited to attend my first antique market in Italy. The information I found online said that the market started at 8AM. However, this was not our experience. We left our apartment at 8 and walked over to one of the areas where the market was supposed to be set up only to discover that only about half of the vendors were set up. A quarter were still unpacking and the other quarter had not arrived yet. As we watched, several sellers drove their trucks into the set up area to begin getting ready. I felt rather awkward as I didn't know if it was OK for me to begin shopping yet. So for the first hour or so I ended up shopping only at the booths that looked setup and ready as I didn't want anyone who was still unpacking to yell at me ☺.
I was really excited to find the vendor whose booth is in the above photo. She had stacks and stacks of textiles - most is pristine condition. I ended up purchasing about 80 Euros worth of linens from her.
I had wondered how easy it would be to shop at the Italian markets as I don't speak Italian. However, it was actually pretty easy as I speak French and I found the numbers in French and Italian to be very similar. A large number of the vendors spoke English too. My parents, who were shopping separately from Rick and I and are not fluent in French, didn't have any issues communicating with any of the sellers.
Rick battles his boredom when I shop at antique markets by snapping away as I shop. While I've got to admit that I would feel awkward if I actively noticed him doing it, he tends to kind of 'shadow' me from a distance and while I know that he's probably snapping away, I am so involved in the hunt for treasures that I don't really pay much attention to what he's doing. And I've got to admit, that I love what he has captured. It's so cool to have the experience documented in photos.
Oh, and in the image above, I bought the book I'm holding. If I recall correctly, I think it was 5 Euros.
All in all, I really enjoyed this market. It was not the best priced market I have shopped at in Europe, but it was hardly the worst either (that distinction goes to a market in Madrid). However, by and large, things were priced pretty reasonably. I even found a few things which I thought were under-priced. So that's always fun ☺
Here's a little snapshot of the linens I bought at the booth I showed you earlier in this post. I can't wait to use the rough linen bedspread (which is on the bottom of this stack) in our guest room. I think it will rock!