In Tuscany, at this time of the year, there are plenty of superb summer festivals. In particular, many music and arts events to keep visitors entertained. Particularly impressive are the many local festivals that nearly every small town has which draw the crowds from both from the local population and from the millions of visitors to the Tuscany region. There are a number of all-night events in towns through the season where bric-a-brac and antique stalls, food vans and restaurants vie with music and art displays called La Nottambula ( I think it means something like, moving all night!). These begin at about 7 pm in the evening and go on until 5 am in the morning! It is an Italian tradition that has been encouraged by local councils in these times of austerity to drum up more trade. The one in Pescia attracted thousands of people, boy they do not do things by halves in Italy!
For music fans there is the annual Lucca Festival where this year’s featured artists included Duran Duran (are they really still playing!), Tom Petty and Kasabian. They have been rocking fans in the town’s Piazza Napoleone. However, this year we chose to go to the Pistoia Blues Festival in Piazza Duomo where the Scottish singer Paolo Nutini ( Pictured above, who’s father is from the Barga near Lucca.) gave a fantastic performance of blues and soul songs. See play list and other details www.paolonutini.com.
Pistoia Torre del Doumo
The concert was attended by around 4000 people and there was a lovely atmosphere throughout Pistoia for the whole evening. Tickets for next years events and for this and the Lucca Festival can be found on the following links.
www.pistoiablues.com and www.summer-festival.com.
Blurry image of Paolo Nutini on Stage
Vellano has not missed out, there have been events that take place from time to time. Last Friday there was as Pink Floyd tribute band in the village square. The sound of electric guitar strings echoing around the hill sides.
The great thing about living here is that you never need to worry about dining out of doors of an evening, the weather is invariably dry and warm. Wherever you are there are the inviting smells of food being cooked and served, at a gentle chattering pace. As well as local residents there are many people visiting Vellano who have holiday homes here who visit only occassionally but are invariably around in July and August. It is always good to see them again and it also means an abundance of social life, food and good chatter. We would like to thank them for making our quiet life here especially pleasurable.
Many of our visitors to Casa Verde head off for the great triumpherate Tuscan cities of Lucca, Florence and Pisa; all within an hours drive from Pescia. However, there are some stunningly beautiful parts of our area that not all travellers manage to see. One of these areas lies around 40 miles away from here over the hills and valleys of the lower Appennines to the Garfagnana and the Serchio valley. The town of Barga is the jewel in its crown. A lovely fairy tale place set on a hilly promontory overlooking the craggy marble magnificence of the Alpi Apuane hills, and topped by what I think is one of the most unique and glorious of Romanesque churches in Italy.
Winding your way up the steep streets of the town you may pop into an ice cream shop or a cafe and speak to someone in Italian but may also be surprised to find out that many of the locals speak perfect English with a distinctive Scottish accent. This is a town twinned with East Lothian and through many quirks of history contains many Italians that grew up in and around the shipyards and steelworks of Glasgow and have returned to their homeland bringing many other ex-patriots with them.
At the top of the town, these winding streets open out into a wide piazza with an incredible all round view of the valley and town below. This space in front of the Duomo of San Cristofero has a lovely open feel with welcoming semi-circular steps leading up to the romaneque door and the carved arched door of grapevines. As you enter the building we were overwhelmed by the dark cool interior and at first the vast open space that was difficult to see. As your eyes adjust (and you put in a 1 Euro piece for the lights) you see a magnificent colourful scene. The great marbled layered romanesque arches, the wide clean communal knave and the beautiful stained glass windows, reflecting warm colours and spiritual light into the church. The upper windows of the knave are made of a fine thin marble sheet that allows light through, unique I think in any church in the world.
In the centre of this vast space there are series of steps to a newer part of the church to seats that mark an area where perhaps the more wealthier members of the congregation were allowed, a church within a church, a community within a community. The whole has a spiritual sense of unity in a unique space. This is a place always worth a detour to. There are lovely restaurants, shops and park walks that add to a great day out but Autumn is my favourite time of the year to visit the lovely town.