Monday, July 21, 2008


It has been over a year since I wrote last and I can't really imagine that anyone will read this but it has been a fantastic year in many ways. Dominating this period was the birth of Baz, who I have now met twice and of course the Hewlett-Loughman wedding which, because it was in the UK, turned out to be such a very happy reunion of our enormous, crazy, wonderful family. Jane was beautiful, David was handsome, Baz was making his voice heard and the child attendants were enchanting. My other little grandson was afraid of my fascinator ( this is a strange head decoration worn at weddings and Ascot by crazy English women) and looked at me in horror until I removed it and then he saw it was his Nonna--which is Italian for Granny --and not some strange bird of prey swooping down to gobble him up.
Sisters Kate and Moyra sang a wonderful song and David and Jane were absolutely crying with emotion.

After the wedding Kate came back with me and my partner Fabrizio to Lucca. Fabrizio hadn't met most of the family before this but he was instantly accepted as he is as crazy and funny and sweet as they are. Alas, Kate could only stay three days before heading off back to London for the Meet the Hewletts convention or whatever. I have heard little from her since as she is fantastically busy but maybe she will come and spend time here in the fall (everything is maybe with Kate as so much is happening in her life right now!)

After a couple of years of procrastination I started to write again and I really haven't stopped since. I had fun researching a hero of Lucca named Francesco Burlamacchi who planned to raise a revolt to free the cities of Tuscany and unite them 1546. Sadly he was betrayed and tortured and eventually executed. I looked at why a middle-aged respectable statesman would at his stage of life dream of doing such a thing and I found the key in his love of reading the classics. He is now safely locked in a chapter of a book in honour of my wonderful supervisor. The other contributers are all distinguished historians and my only claim to fame was that I was his last student before he retired, so it was a great privilege for me.

After this I decided to honour another hero: this is a wonderful old dog who has lived on the streets of Lucca for 14 years. His story is also both sad and noble. I have written a book for children and it has been endorsed by my 5 year old granddaughters. Hopefully David's little son Baz may enjoy it when he is older. The illustrations are currently being done by Shira who is a talented artist friend of Kate's.
Finally I have finished a semi-autobiographical book about my research year here in Lucca in 1997. I had kept a detailed diary that year so it was a matter of recounting some of the adventures that happened to me in while I struggled with Italian and archival documents in Siena and Lucca. I am not too sure what I will do with it now!
Currently I am working on a series of walking seminars of Lucca. As it is a fantastic place and it easy to talk about its history.

The bad news is that I lost my camera at the wedding so unfortunately I have no photos and no camera. I feel especially sick about it especially as I lost 1500 photos when my computer did something strange earlier this year. No sympathy from David as he is always telling me BACK UP EVERYTHING REGULARLY! I must say that losing all your photos is like having years of your life erased.

The concert series is going on in Lucca. Last night Alicia Keys (? Spelling) was here in Piazza Grande. At the same time it is the 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini who was born in Lucca and so there are lots of concerts of his music too.

Thanks to all who have kindly written and kept in touch. Some of you have visited Italy this year and I hope you have enjoyed it!
Right now it is very HOT! My dog Chelsea is spread out at my feet on the tile floor like a bear rug!
Fabrizio has just brought me a glass of cold wine--viva l'Italia!


spankys said...

All I can say is "Wow!" You really have been productive. I like doing research, it is the writing I can't stand;, so I envy you.
Congratulations on the wedding. I've heard a great time was had by all.

Stillwaters said...

What a motivating post! Your productivity is making me rethink my "take the summer off" plan. I have another 5 weeks before I'm back in the classroom, so I will see what I can accomplish in that time. Thank you!

Fran said...

First of all I would like to thank you for your post. I do check in here often to see if you have posted anything new and interesting yet and you have. You have been very busy and productive this year.

I am looking forward to reading your works and the Children's Book sounds so interesting I may have to read it too. I still find myself re reading the classic children stories I enjoyed when I was younger.

I am also glad that the whole Hewlett Clan had a great time at the Wedding. Sorry to hear about your camera. Leave it to David to tell you to "Back everything up" That is a very David thing to say.

Hope you can find the time to relax after a very busy year.

Hugs to Chelsea


Paula said...

How lovely to hear from you again! I can see why you've been a bit pressed for time.

I'm glad you're enjoying the next addition to your grandchild brood. Baz is a cutie. And I bet his cousins loved cooing over him at the wedding.

Bummer about the pictures, though.

crazymom said...

Lovely to "see" you back! I'm so sorry to hear about your camera--that's awful!

Mirth said...

A fellow squirrel directed me to your 'blog' and I found it very interesting - It is a shame you don't write more.

I myself have just started a blog on LJ (LiveJournal) which I am writing experiences and memories from childhood and up.

So many things become hazy or completely forgotten over time that I wanted to write them down while I still remember them and when I get old and forgetful I will be able to remember and if I need to leave something of myself behind to my younger relatives they will be able to read about my life.

Sadly, I only realised this after my Grandmutti had a stroke caused by a traveling blood clot leaving her only able to communicate through the single word 'Door/Doh' and realised that all the things she knows are now lost to us.

It is amazing the things she can still get across with just one word though. She is one of my main Hero's. They don't make them like they used to - amazing woman.

I was wondering as many myths, traditions are borne out of history if there are any such stories in Lucca that you have found the basis of in history??

Thank you for an enjoyable read.


ps: Chelsea's white face is unique and adorable.

Becky L said...

Hello! And a lovely day to you, Fabrizio and Chelsea! It is so good to hear from you again. You have had what sounds like a very busy year.

I'm so glad to hear that the wedding went so well. Far too often families get together for sad occations. David has promised us pictures. But how terrible to lose your camera and all the photos from your computer.

Like Fran, I have stopped by from time to time to see if you have been here. You're writing sounds great. I would love to read some of it. I'm sure that Baz (he is very cute) will enjoy the story of the dog as much as your granddaughters.

Thank you for taking the time to write and have a wonderful week!

Sarah said...

Thanks for the update :-D
Yes, I passed by your doorstep merely weeks ago! Had a fantastic time up at my conference at Il Ciocco (not sure if you know it), and part of it was an afternoon trip in to Lucca. Woefully inadequate length of time I know, but my bank account prefers me to come back to work. Got some marvelous photos tho! I loved walking around, in one small square they were renovating a building and you could see this huge chandelier through one of the open windows.
After the conference we went on to the Cinque Terre, then I came home via Pisa (much smaller than I thought!), Florence (soooo many people) and Rome (an amazing 5 days walking around).
Anyway, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir. I envy you your summer - here in NZ it's winter, freezing cold. Oh, I hear David is heading this way in October for a convention? I won't have the chance to go as I live further south, but I really hope he has the chance to explore the rest of the country (don't hold Auckland against us!).
Best wishes, and buena notte!

Francy said...

Welcome back to blog-world!
I too keep checking this blog hoping there'd be updates! :-D
I was at "Meet the Hewletts", I hope we treated your children well and that they had as much fun as we did. We heard lots of stories of the wedding and Baz. And thanks to David's blog, we've all seen lots of pics of Baz... he's really super cute!
I'm actually interested in the story of that dog who lived in Lucca for 14 years... what will be the title? And will it be in bookstores here in Italy? (Yes, I'm in Italy, in Trieste to be precise.)
Very sorry to hear you lost your camera. It really is sad to loose so many pictures. I never back-up either (and I should), and my worst nightmare is my computer crashing!
Hope you'll blog again soon!

Christina said...

Good to hear from you again! Wow, you have been busy! Wonderful to hear the wedding went so well, and sorry to hear about your pictues, it's an awful thing to lose so many!!
Looking forward to reading your work!!

abharding said...

Well it sounds like you have been doing quite a bit. It is no wonder you haven't had the time for things like blogging.

On losing all your pictures... that is one of the worst parts of digital cameras. It is so easy for that to happen.

And your son most likely knows that old saying about computers. "There are two people in the world. Those that have lost data and those who will. So you might want to ask him what he has lost to a computer error. (or better yet, ask Jane.)

Yeoyou said...

It's so good to hear from you again. I've checked your blog now and then to see if there's something new from Italy and now there is! :D
I guess you must have felt very honoured to have been asked to write for that book of honour. And the subject you chose for it really does sound fascinating. A man, inspired by reading classics, starting a revolte!

I would love to read your children's book about the dog one day. I study children's literature in Germany, you see,, so I got a perfect excuse for reading such things else than just my sheer pleasure :D

But it's so sad to hear about your camera and pictures. I'm very sorry for you. I guess I should do a back-up soon...I just only never feel in the mood as I'm always thinking "why today? There's possibly something important coming tomorrow, so why not tomorrow?" and so on...
Well, I'll go now and check out your other post as well (2 posts! Wow! It can only be a good day today!)