Convivialità – means conviviality in English but in Italy I think the word has a deeper meaning.
For Italians, the simple daily pleasure of eating and drinking is their first priority. Buon appetito said at every mealtime, or even when just buying local food, means not simply ‘good appetite’ but enjoy your food. In Italy there are three fundamental ingredients for an enjoyable meal, good food, good wine and convivialità or good company.
Good food in Lucca means all fresh local produce used when ripe, matured and in season. They are happy to say something is not available when it is not in season rather than offer a poor imported substitute.
Good wine in Lucca means local produce from the local vineyards in the hills surrounding the city and the districts of Montecarlo and San Gennaro just a few kilometres to the east are just two of the centres of production.
Good company or convivialità is joining with friends, family and neighbours as often as possible to share meals together. Either at home or di fuori literally meaning outside but generally accepted as eating elsewhere other than at home or a casa. Cooking for six to dozen people is more satisfying, more interesting and generally more economical. Cooking alone and particularly dining alone is an anathema to Italian sensibilities.
Eating in large numbers was taken to the extreme on the evening of 27th June 2014 when over three thousand people sat down together at one continuous table over two kilometres long extending along half of the city walls.
As one of ten guests of Carol and Lars owners of Enoteca Calasto (www.lucca-wine-treasures.com) we strolled to the event, after meeting up for the customary almost obligatory apperitivo. The event was entitled, Aggiungi Un Posto a Tavola – Lucca (Add a Seat at the Table – Lucca) as part of the on-going celebrations since 2013 marking the 500th year of the start of the building of Lucca’s Renaissance Walls.
The event achieved its intention of being confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest line of tables for a dinner. Over twenty restaurants in Lucca as well as many other sponsors helped to contribute to the organisation and funding.
The intention is to attempt to break the record again next year by doubling the numbers so that the table completes an unbroken circuit of the whole length of the city’s wall. The evening was yet another instance that shows Lucca is well served with people, both in an official capacity or as private institutions and individuals that inspire new ways to bring the community together and to enjoy and share as sense of belonging or convivialità.