he year 2011, for us, has been full of variety and reasonable health.


Teaching English continued satisfactorily, at the middle school of Baths of Lucca (where I conducted CTP’s evening lessons for adults) and the Da Vinci school of Lucca. Furthermore, I started a contract to teach the staff of the former Baldini paint factory of (now Materis).


In February I was in Florence for an interesting lecture on the teaching of English. In the same month I delivered a lecture on “E. M. Forster and Italy” for the university of the third age


We have continued our series of beautiful walks in the idyllic landscape of the Apuan Alps and the Apennines. This year we began exploring the Pisan Mountain with friends from Montuolo.


In June I visited England (for the first time in four years) to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Elia Cipriani, mother of Sandra. I met Sandra at the Royal Opera House, where we enjoyed a performance by the Royal Ballet. I also took the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe, and to make a visit to a friend living in the idyllic country around Selbourne.


At the end of June a friend from university days in Cambridge and her husband, and now manager of the poetry programs on the BBC came to visit us.


In July, in our Fiat 500, we spent some beautiful days on the Etruscan coast near Solvay Rosignano. In August we visited the enchanting Giglio island, now so harshly stricken. Unforgettable trips!


In the summer Sandra’s mother had a pleasant stay of several days at Longoio.


In September a schoolmate, Michael and his wife visited us during their trip to Italy, where they attended the inauguration of Puccini’s house.


Friend Bruce, from Australia, visited me in autumn. As he was interested in Italy’s fortified towns, we made some great trips to Castiglione, Ghivizzano, Trassilico etc.


Unfortunately, we must note two deaths in our village: Giacomo, at the end of May, and Stella, a lady of considerable poetic and artistic talent in December. In their different ways they were unforgettable people and their absence from our life will be seriously felt.


We have gone to many shows: a rediscovered Vivaldi opera, conducted by Maestro Sardelli, at the teatro dei differenti in Barga, a Turandot at Torre Del Lago Puccini, Lisa Minelli at the Lucca festival etc.


2011 is the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Liszt, and we went to two concerts of his marvellous music: in the botanical garden of Lucca and in the Peacock saloon at the Baths of Lucca.


In September I was the “master of ceremonies” for a pleasant couple of girls who celebrated their wedding (legalised first in the UK) near us.


In October, friend Massimo’s cabaret (with his daughter as singer) was most agreeable, as was also the opera season in our local Teatro academico”.


The Lucca" Comix and Games" was particularly vivacious, and fortunately without the rain of last year.


For the vintage we assisted in the harvest of friends’ grapevines of. This year, the field has continued with greater success in the orchard, thanks to the waste produce of our rabbits.


The international series of lectures, at the ex-Anglican church, on the Risorgimento (150 years!) was particularly interesting, thanks also to Prof. Sereni’s new book about local reaction to and participation in the event.


For the Christmas season we took part in the living manger of Equi Terme as governor of Syria (happier times, then) and his wife.


The mangers exhibition, for which the Baths of Lucca are famous, displayed, this year, many fine examples from Caltagirone.


Sicily was our destination for New Year's Eve, spent with friends in Syracuse. Reaching Palermo by plane and renting a car, we stopped two days in this marvellous city, visiting Monreale and its exquisite cloister, the Norman palace, home  of the Sicilian parliament, with the palatine chapel, the sanctuary of Saint Rosalia, much loved by Goethe, etc. Crossing the island we did not loose the opportunity of visiting the valley of the temples at Agrigento and other mythical places.


The activity of our Choral group: the Cantores Lucenses who specialize in Gregorian and polyphonic song continues to develop with new pieces by Ravanello and Padre Martini in our repertoire. We have sung, with great success, at the Musical festival of Lucca, in Casabasciana, and for the summer workshop in Benabbio. Our Christmas concert at Corsena was also well received.


Tireless Prof Baiocchi (now a proud grandfather) again organized a poetry festival at Longoio in August which was well attended.


For the second year running, a wreath was placed on our little monument to the fallen by the commune’s councillor, Claudio Gemignani


Sandra has, this year too, participated in the competition of extemporaneous painting at the Baths of Lucca.


Finally, our cat Napoleon continues healthy and intelligent, as do his friends, the other cats and rabbits, Push and Pull, our two goldfishes and our white Muscovy ducks, Tip and Tap, who joined us in March.



Wishing you a happy New Year! From Francis e Sandra