Winter in Lucca – short days, chilly to downright cold temperatures, bare tree branches and vines, rain (sometimes LOTS of rain), and occasional snow. The weeks after the end of the holiday season, between Epiphany in early January and the beginning of Carnevale in late February / early March are quiet. This is time to catch one’s breath and rest after the hectic holidays. The city of Lucca is resting too. There are fewer tourists in general and a notable absence of larger tour groups wandering through the streets.
Spring, with a promise of sunny days and the emergence of green leaves and flowers, feels a long way off. The big summer music festival is months away, though the advertising has many people here excited with anticipation – Elton John in June, Sting in July – something to look forward to on long winter evenings.
While it is definitely “off season” here in Lucca, there is still a lot going on, which makes winter a pleasurable time of year. The cold temperatures are invigorating (so different than the milder winters of New Mexico). I now have a collection of hats and scarves and happily venture out even when the temperatures are low or it is dark outside. The cafes have mostly pulled their tables indoors but they remain open and people still meet for the evening aperitivo hour – though the bright orange of a summer spritz has mostly given way to glasses of wine and warm drinks.
The local markets continue throughout winter. At the antiques market, shoppers dress warmly to browse furniture, linens, books, tableware, clothing, and assorted collectibles. I’ve done a bit of shopping there this winter – a tablecloth for my terrace awaits warmer weather, a pretty glass vase graces my dining room table, and colorful digestivo glasses make me smile every time I see them.
The weekly household market, just outside the walls in Piazzale Don Baroni, sells everything from shoes to lightbulbs, frying pans to bras. There are also plenty of flowers to buy and food products (including meats, cheeses, honey, fresh fish, nuts, and beautiful oranges and clementines from Sicily).
Lucca is known for its music, which continues even at this time of year. The Associazione Musicale Lucchese has concerts scheduled throughout winter – often in the small theater of the Boccherini Institute.
There are also performances at the Teatro del Giglio – opera, plays, concerts.
And, of course, Lucca Italian School is still busy with students who have come to study Italian during the quiet season.
In addition to these activities, winter in Lucca is simply beautiful. Picture walks through uncrowded Medieval streets, strolls along the wall on bright winter afternoons, dazzling winter sunsets, and distant views of snow-capped mountains – that is winter in Lucca. I’m still hoping for a dusting of snow. -post by JMB