Lucca

The Palaces and the Tower-Houses


But the rich built palaces - and in this period the introduction of tower-houses, a typical habitable structure developed upwards, narrow between the other buildings of similar types - and the palaces that lavisly prepared banquets in which they consumed products that arrived in the city from the countryside and also from Garfagnana that in 1248 became fuedal Lucchese, these products are now prepared and cooked with herbs. The Garfagnanian land was always overworked and abandoned politically so much so that in the XV and XVI centuries it knew bandits and smugglers as documented in the letter from Ariosto, from 1522 to 1525 Governor of this region that from 1429 Lucca divided with the Estensi of Ferrara.
The dishes - remained tied to traditional products - in these years became more impressive with new flavours and new methods. The meat was preferred turned on a grand fire and heavily spiced, farmyard animals were popular (the unforgettable marzaiole all lucchese - ducks that are wild and are hunted in March - that are cooked in pans and in the oven?), and pasture animals; and today there is still used an ancient dish called "manzo restretto all luchese" in which the meat is seasoned with cloves and cinnamon; and the old farro is used for soups but more elaborate and tasty with aromatic herbs whereas pandolce became more impressive and became the buccellato, nearly a symbol of the "lucchesità" a generous character that gives all.
Il buccellato (from latin buccellatum, cracker) that today is offered in Lucca as an enriched biscuit in respect to the original recipe that was made only with bread dough and aniseed seeds. It is a sweet that can be preserved for a long period and when it is hard it is served as a base for zuppa lucchese that is made by wetting the pieces of buccellato with vinsanto wine and layered alternatively with strawberries; it is then covered with a layer of custard. But the powerful newly rich families from commercial activities came into conflict: the XIII and XIV centuries became a time of great conflict and bloodied so much the political scene that put in jeopardy its independance. So in 1314 Lucca fell into the hands of Uguccione of the Faggiola, a Ghibellino signore of Pisa and successively was dominated by Castruccio Castracani who followed expansionistic politics pushing to conquer Pistoia and arriving at the door of Florence. He died suddenly of malaria, the decadence of the city became unstoppable also due to the Plague in 1348 that decimated the population of Lucca by this time under the yoke of its rival Pisa. The "cattiva pisana" ended in 1369 when Lucca was liberated by Carlo IV who however did not know how to calm the internal fighting that permitted the growth to power of the Guinigi family who from 1400 for thirty years where the lords of the city, until Paolo Guinigi was deposed by a conspiracy of citizens deciding to have a small government renouncing any expansionistic politics and putting themselves in a defensive position in which they constructed a third encircling wall still existing. Slowly the grand traffic was abandoned, the capital brought back to the city, valuing the countryside in which were constructed the villas still famous today in which are prepared meals lavishly revived that are characterised by the value put on land products and farm-yard animals that appeared on tables luxuriously prepared that struck the immagination and that were eaten accompanied by large cups of wine that in this time became better and better. Particularly important is - as in many other northern central zones of Italy - the breeding of swine that were worked in many different ways, using everything, from the blood to the trotters; in Garfagnana and in all Lucchesia there is still a famous recipe of "fegatelli" (small livers) exactly "alla Garfagnina" or also "fegatelli del mi'pa'".