Bianca Notte (White Night): nessun dorma

The title translates as White Night: none sleep - which when it happens annually in Lucca means the city becomes more alive that night with bars, restaurants and other shops and outlets able and willing to open much later and support many interesting cultural events. 

Among the many attractions this year I was particularly interested in a performance by the famous Italian guitarist Giandomenico Anellino.

Giandomenico’s career started when he graduated with honours from the Conservatorio S.Cecilia in Rome. Although he lives in Rome he travels the world playing with international artists such as Josè Carreras, Randy Crawford, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dionne Warwick, Brian Adams and Lionel Ritchie as well as Italian singers like Zucchero, Claudio Baglioni and Renato Zero.

I first saw Anellino when he played to a packed audience giving a free concert in Lucca in the large church of San Francesco. I saw him again at Lucca’s Teatro Giglio in 2014 when he played many of the songs written by the Beatles. The event with a narrator and several singers was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ ‘invasion’ of Italian musical culture in 1964. This performance coincided with the album Switch On Guitar – Giandomenico Anellino plays The Beatles which is an outstanding example of his virtuosity and a homage to the talents of Lennon and McCartney played with no other sound just his guitar.

Jan and I were held in awe of his incredible talent as he playing virtually non-stop for ninety minutes in the beautiful setting of the loggia of Lucca’s Praterorian Palace. The building is a wonderful example of Renaissance architecture designed in the late 15th century by local architect Matteo Civitali and likely finished by his son Nicoalo. The palazzo was originally the town hall and centre of administration. As well as the loggia the stuccoed façade is framed in the grey stone known as pietra serena and features mullioned windows and later a large clock. Within the loggia is a bronze statue of Matteo Civitali and busts of the explorer Piaggia and Strocchi a follower of Garibaldi.

Another attraction on Bianca Notte was the water fountain held in the Piazza del Duomo that consisted of hundreds of high-pressure jets of water many reaching heights of twenty metres lit by coloured lighting, bursts of flames all synchronised to various musical themes.  

Bianca Notte can easily be confused with another new event called White Night which is simply a bring-your-own dinner event in Piazza Napoleone where the dress code, including plates, food, tablecloths, even candles and flowers must be only white, absolutely no other colour permitted. A unique and amusing experience!