Friday, June 15, 2007
Ciao and Wow! Thanks for a variety of comments. Some great questions from the history buffs among you. So FYI the materials from the old Roman and Medieval walls were recycled--some of the stones were pinched to build houses and some were incorporated into the new walls. What did the Medici have against Lucca? Well, in the 16th century, a young, ambitious and clever Cosimo de' Medici came to rule in Florence and set about strengthening his power base and dealing with his enemies. Many malcontents had fled from Florence and were hanging out in neighbouring states such as Siena and Lucca, so, in order to control the threat that they might cause him, Cosimo tried to find a way to take over Lucca--which, by the way was a ripe little plum of a place run by rich silk merchants. Well, Lucca was lucky and escaped his clutches, but Siena was not so fortunate and fell to Medici domination after a prolonged siege in 1555. Actually, I was in Siena yesterday; it is currently being besieged by thousands of tourists.
Now, I am sure you have realized that we are a family of animal lovers. My children spent most of their early summers in England with family who owned dogs, cats, horses and even parrots and all of them own pets--mostly cats--except David, who of course has Mars. I too have a dog. She is quite unique but I suppose all dog owners think that! She is called Chelsea, not after the ex-president's daughter or after the soccer team but Chelsea as in Chelsea BUN, a particularly gooey and sticky but sweet english sugary bun, for those of you who don't know. She was given up by her owners, a free dog to good home, and I happened to be there at the right time and adopted her without hesitation. I have never regretted it, despite some difficult re-structuring of my life round a dog with separation anxiety, which means she has often accompanied me to work, wherever that may have been. My kids say this dog has been more places with me than they have, as she has lived in Italy twice (of course she is bilingual), she has also lived in Toronto, Windsor, Washington State, Ohio and maybe England could be next. She is 14 and her birthday is Feb 14, St. Valentine's Day, and she is all about love. She is half Cocker and half whatever, with a bit of Afghan hound thrown in. Actually, that part of her is in her hair. She is very deaf now and now going blind but she still acts like a puppy. She is very greedy and is now on a vet-instigated diet. She is very happy with the life here, especially when people drop a lot of croissants and pizza crusts. She adores her walks on the wall where she socializes with (well, bosses) other dogs.
Lucca is doggie heaven and there are many dogs here. People ride their bikes with dogs sitting in the front basket; people run and cycle with their dogs round the wall. Every year there is a dog show on the wall and the proceeds go to the local dog shelter and last year Chelsea won the Super Nonna (super granny) category. I was very proud of the gold cup she won but she was only interested in the dog biscuit that came with it. There is a show on TV here with a wonderful police dog who carries out all sorts of amazing feats for his team in the cause of justice, and that is the only programme Chelsea lets me watch in peace, but she is really quite jealous of Rex, as he is called, because he is so talented and so we now have to do a lot of frisbee practice to rebuild her ego...brava Chelsea!