Why waste your time with grotty Santa grottoes when the real thing is right here in Bagni di Lucca. The Villa Webb, Byron’s residence when he stayed in Bagni di Lucca, has been transformed by the amazing hands of the Vicaria di Val di Lima and other volunteers into a magical Christmas mansion complete with a Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) whose voice sounded remarkably like my GP’s. He spread happiness to all the kids (including myself) visiting the transformed palace in the enchanted grotto of the ancient kitchens. Better than any anti-depressive pills I think….
Let these pictures tell the story.
Down in Villa there was everything from the primeval Santa Claus (green rather than coke red and white),to line dancing to street food. Although the day wasn’t exactly sunny there was a smile on everyone’s face and it was truly good to be part of the pre-Christmas fun.
Though there isn’t much money around in people’s pockets as Italy fails to raise much above the original crisis of 2008 who cares? The best things in life – comradeship, laughter, singing and dancing – are free anyway!
In the evening there was an amazing concert of contemporary music at Borgo a Mozzano’s library, Given by the Etymos ensemble put together by Luccan composer Girolamo Deraco, Etymos played pieces composed by the Luccan association for contemporary music ‘Cluster’. It ended a season of four very enjoyable concerts artistically directed by Giacomo Brunini.
The pieces were amazing explorations in the field of living composers living in the Lucchesia today of which there are at least fifty. Not bad for a province that counts just 390,000 inhabitants – little more than most London boroughs. Among the pieces played was the winner of last year’s Cluster contemporary music competition – Alastair Greig from the UK who studied under Oliver Knussen.
It’s lovely to hear Mozart and Beethoven but regrettably one can’t discuss their music with them because they’re dead! It’s thus truly wonderful to hear music by living composers who are actually present in the concert hall and who will tell you something about the inspiration behind their pieces.
The fact that most of the pieces were first performances played in a ‘provincial’ town and that the concert hall was very well attended just shows the interest so many lucchesi have in music.
Did I have my favourite? Gatti’s electronic piece ‘aspettando Puccini’ had me guessing what Puccini piece was subject to such extraordinary transformations. (I suspect it was ‘La Fanciulla’, however). I did particularly enjoy the last piece by Marco Simoni, perhaps because I’m a Leo myself.
Christmas in Bagni di Lucca is like nowhere else (except of course, if you go to the next Italian town). I think I may be suffering from presepetitis. A post on the number of Christmas cribs around our area would fill several volumes.
Here is a list of some more nativity scenes in our area:
Incidentally, if you want to make your own traditional plaster-cast crib here’s a course you’ll be interested in.
Hope you too manage to survive the pre-Christmas excitement wherever you live!