That Wendy is so much fun, I just wish that I could get her to sit still on the altana and pet me for a few hours. I probably wouldn’t even give her any love bites. But she’s always so busy and running around this summer, I’m exhausted just thinking about it…

So I’m going to head back to Da Leo’s and eavesdrop on the Guinigi’s lunch at Da Leo’s with Dr. Gianni Nespolo, discussing Reba Oaks.

*    *    *   *   * *  *  *   *   * *  *  *   *   * *  *  *   *   *   *  *   *   * *  *  *   *   *

Dr. Nespolo listened intently to Double R Guinigi’s idea for a magnificent tower in Lucca topped by Reba Oaks. His brow was furrowed, and he was nervously taking tiny bites of Da Leo’s excellent focaccia bread as he took notes in a little leather book.

When Double R was finished, Dr. Nespolo slowly pushed his chair back from the table, ran his hand through his thick head of dark hair, and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

Double R, I understand your excitement with the idea of bringing rare Reba Oaks to Lucca, and putting them on your magnificent new tower. But, there are many serious issues to consider”, Dr. Nespolo opined.

First of all, it would be necessary to mobilize an expedition of expert botanists,



and armed bodyguards

to the island of Madeira.This could take a great deal of time, and cost an enormous amount of money sir! …

“The entire expedition could easily be lost to corsairs or storms off the Moroccan coast! …

“Even if it arrives safely at Madeira, the expedition would then need to hire at least twenty local guides who are levada experts

who would lead the expedition’s trek up the mountains of Madeira looking for this tiny, obscure Tanner’s Levada — if such a levada actually exists at all

and which may never be found, even if the expedition searches for two years! ….

“Even if the tiny, obscure Tanner’s Levada is found, then the botanists will have to meticulously search the steep mountainside in the area to try to find at least one healthy Reba Oak

if such a tree actually exists at all. This could be dangerous, as the terrain is very steep and

many great botanists tend to have a terrible fear of heights!

“Even if a healthy Reba Oak or two is found, — they would need to be carefully excavated,

and somehow transported safely through the dense Madeiran jungle

down to the harbor in the Madeiran capital city of Funchal,

without killing the Reba Oaks! This could be extremely time-consuming and risky my friend! ….

“Then, there will certainly be a Harbor Master or other local official

who will refuse to allow the Reba Oaks to be exported to Italy unless enormous tariffs — or more honestly, enormous bribes! — are paid in gold!

“Even then, there will be a desperate need to try to keep the Reba Oaks alive as they are in transit, buffeted by salt water, wind and sun ….

“And even if the Reba Oaks arrive safely at an Italian port, how can their safe arrival in Lucca be ensured? If the Pisani learn that the prestigious Guinigi family has organized an extraordinarily expensive and risky expedition just to bring Reba Oaks to Lucca, they will probably attempt to seize the Reba Oaks in port and bring them to Pisa! They will probably end up as the most prized attraction in the orto botanico at the University of Pisa

or just to spite you Double R, you may even find them being planted on top of their hopelessly over-hyped Leaning Tower!

“My dear Dr. Nespolo” Double R Guinigi tried to interject ….

“No, no, wait! I have not even mentioned the most terrible risk of all!” Dr. Nespolo exclaimed.


“Why, the expedition members could find themselves transported into some magical world of utterly fantastic proportions, imagining seeing or hearing things that we can only dream about!

“Like people flying around in aircraft or even to the moon!

Like people having tiny boxes in their homes where they can see, hear and even talk with other people thousands of miles away! 

Like people inventing a type of gnocchi that taste good even without being covered by tons of delicious toasted cheese!”

Let me be very blunt about this, the expedition members might lose their minds!”

There was dead silence at their lunch table at Da Leo’s.

“Isn’t the farro excellent today?” Gigi Guinigi happily remarked, trying to break the somber mood of the conversation.

“Yes, it certainly is Gigi, I love this restaurant, as you know”, Dr. Nespolo responded.

“I deeply apologize, but I must make one last note of caution,” said Dr. Nespolo, after taking a sip of his red wine.

Even if the Reba Oaks are successfully planted and grown on your magnificent new tower in Lucca, what happens if some little kid, like your wonderful son Paolo, gets up on top of the new tower, and suddenly imagines that he is living in a treehouse surrounded by a group of happy monkeys and at least one gorilla, and never wants to live in your palazzo again?”

Double R suddenly got a huge grin, and then he started laughing, and that caused Gigi and Dr. Nespolo to start laughing also.

I’m getting more and more intrigued by this project by the minute!” Double R happily said. “Now let’s try some of the tordelli, the chef told me they are especially good today!”

And an excellent lunch ensued, followed by a limoncello for good luck.

Next post Memorial Day: Lucca Memories