June 24, 2010
After a day of rest on Wednesday, we decided, rather than going to Florence or Rome, we would stay pretty local. The oldest flea market in Italy was held in the small town nearest to us, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, so we decided to pay a visit.
First we went to the farmers’ market, where I picked up a giant bottle of hand-pressed olive oil and then we went to the street market. It was fun to see so many vendors of all kinds, but a little weird the way so many were hawking cheap clothing and house wares that were obviously made in China! André and I figured that since there are no big box stores in this corner of the world, the big boxes must have to come to the towns! If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…
It was neat to be in a less touristy area (although there definitely were tourists besides us) and be surrounded by the chatter of the Italian language. We mostly wandered around and ended up buying a few things – a pocket knife for Zander, bracelets for Callie and Griffin, a flashlight for André and a gorgeous quilt for me. This is why I avoid markets, most of the time! But what is a vacation without a few souvenirs? It is fun to see how Zander is getting more responsible with his treasures as he grows older – of course Callie and Griffin both broke their ‘special’ bracelets within a week. We wandered around town a bit more and soaked in the Rocca Ariostesca and views of the old roman bridge over the river Serchio.
Then we headed up the hill near the town to see the Fortrezza di Mont Alfonso. This place was built in the 1500’s as a last defense before Lucca but had been neglected and damaged over time and through bombings during WWI and II. Now it is again in the process of restoration. It was totally deserted but provided some gorgeous views of the Tuscan hills!
Our last stop was for a lunch out… imagine that! We ate at a local place that was recommended by the owners of our villa. We had this amazing pasta dish, the kids had risotto and then some special meat (grilled chicken and pork). Everything was amazing.
Of course, we finished it off with gelato….. can you find me trying to climb into the case? Zander always ordered caramel or lemon. Griffin was into chocolate or strawberry – Callie preferred strawberry or pistachio – André would get the fruity frozen yogurt and something else and I would always either go for chocolate or ask to try the special of this particular gelaterie – the crema here was to die for. Since we ate this every day, and it is the one thing the kids still ask for from Italy – I figured it deserves remembering!