The People of Italy - Versilia

If you come to Italy for the never-ending treasures of art and architecture and food and landscapes, you'll have a magnificent time. And you can do it again and again, as thousands of Italophiles, ourselves included, can't resist doing. For our part however, we seek the experiences that can't be repeated and can't be predicted and can't be forgotten: meeting the Italian people. Gracious, intelligent, hard working, relaxed, unpredictable are the qualities that first come to mind in describing them. Sure, you may have a vexing experience, but that ticket for a ZTL traffic violation will be forgotten long before you forget the folks you meet.

Here are some of our favorite people photos from our recent visit to Versilia. This is the Tuscan region around Viareggio, which is west of Lucca and Florence, and north of Pisa. It's well known for its fabulous clean beaches, but that's just the beginning.


This is Francesco, our tour guide at Massaciuccoli Romano the archaeological site on the shores of the lake of the same long name. It's the excavation of a very large Roman villa on the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli in the town of Massarosa near Viareggio. Francesco is a highly trained archaeologist who knows everything about the Romans, and who is dressed in a toga for the visit of 12 bloggers who dressed in modern costume - theoretically. You can bet your last penny that the toga is historically accurate. He apparently learned his English mostly from books since it was idiosyncratic (holy came out holly), but anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language would stand in awe. The professor talked slowly and deliberately for two hours on a technical subject and answered every question possible.


I'm out in the street with Grandmother
When a camera clicks open its shutter.
Who wouldn't be proud,
For crying out loud
To see that we look like each other!


This Italian couple was studying the real estate listings along the promenade (passeggiata a mare) in Viareggio. You'll think boardwalk, but that would be underestimating the grandeur, both past and present. The promenade starts in Viareggio and goes up the coast for about 30 miles. In the settled areas, it has many architectural marvels, as well as some limited touristy junk, as well as some stores where we wondered why the price tags didn't burst into flame. When I showed the photo to this couple, they were delighted and the woman laughed and laughed. I couldn't figure out why, so the joke's on me.

This boy seemed glum since he was in this 'Thinker' pose before and after I approached. I showed him the photo and he just shrugged. What's wrong with youth these days when being photographed by a balding old foreigner doesn't provoke derisive mockery?

Seafood and gluten-free expert Federica Santini of La Posteria, Viareggio.
You're right, this was a set up. We ate great food at Ristorante La Posteria operated by Chef Federica  Santini. This is one remarkable cook as she knows fish better than Poseidon, and also has substantial gluten-free, vegetarian  and vegan offerings. We watched her clean and filet about six kinds of fish, with a running commentary on which fin was where and what these gucky things did and how to remove them and make a delicious sauce. The highlight for me was when the pretty woman cut a slice down the back of a large and ugly fish and ripped off the flesh with her bare hands. It doesn't get better than that. Federica posed for pictures like a movie star, and had a smile like Sarah Silverman, which caused some bloggers to have impure thoughts.

We'd like to thank Serena Giovannoni of Wishversilia, numerous local small businesses, the initiative Donna e Web, and the Province of Lucca for the Versilia Blog Tour 2013. They are supporting independent travel websites such as this one who provide a different and hopefully appealing perspective on the area.

Written by Martha

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