The concept of a "week-end" is beautifully universal. This week Friday came as it always does and I was truly grateful. It was as if once the faculty determined I was a functioning pianist, they decided to schedule me for as much as they possibly could. No complaints because this would have to fall into the "good experience" category, but my day's are frequently more intense than one would hope for while sojourning in Italy. HENCE, my excitement for the weekend.
This weekend I decided to stay in Lucca and "take it easy"---a favorite expression of Lorenzo Malfatti whom I work with. Friday night I met up with friends for dinner and we made a nice, un-Itlian, chicken alfredo. Alfredo is definitely an American invention, but it's one I enjoy. It was one of those wonderful summer evenings when the temperature's beautiful, you've had a fantastic meal, and then you get to just sit and talk with friends. Or in this case, several people that I didn't know who I'm now friends with. :) A refreshing change from the standard bar pilgrimage.
Saturday I played the part of tourist with gusto. My new roommate, Kelly, and I started of the day with a fantastic brunch of fresh cantaloupe and prosciutto sandwiches and then grabbed a Frommer's guidebook and went to town. Literally. Lucca is an incredibly old city that is basically a walled fortress. "La mura" that currently stands was the built from 1544-1654, and it was the 4th set erected. The town is filled with ancient churches, quaint markets, and gorgeous scenery. We visited several of the churches, grabbed some gelato, and wandered through the shopping centers. And it was absolutely wonderful. One of those times when you remember you're in Italy and it takes your breath away.
I found a clothing store that needs English-speaking help and if they're willing to hire me under the table, I think I'll just stay here. There's so many things about life in Lucca that I love. I line-dried my laundry yesterday. I bicycle everywhere. While I'm busy, stress is something that doesn't really exist in the Italian culture. Olive oil is inexpensive and amazing! Eating in general is a joy, but considerably healthier. In a nutshell, I love living here. Going home will be a serious culture shock. It makes me homesick for Europe just thinking about it. So I won't.