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Stories from our Travelers

'Murabilia,' Flowers and Food as Art

A small visitor with prize squash
by Melissa Cicci

Murabilia Murainflore is an annual botanical exhibition and market held on Lucca’s walls, Le Mura. In cooperation with the Botanical Gardens of Lucca, the event is now in its 14th year. This lively exhibition is a gathering of many of Italy’s – and Europe’s – most inventive growers and farmers of flowers, produce and food. I don’t know much about botanicals, but I appreciated the artful displays.

The show is spread out over a large section of the walls, with vendors set up in open air or under white canopies. Growers are dedicated to specific species. Among the flowering plants: orchids, succulents, salvias, roses, and hydrangeas, to name a few. Among edible plants, there were small farmers displaying heirloom tomatoes, giant zucca (squash), radiant citrus, jewel-toned pears, and apples named for queens and Madonnas. There were also chocolatiers, aromatherapists, John Deere and Kubota tractor sellers (one demonstrating a mini lawn robot for mowing), spice traders, hydrologists, garden furniture designers and more.

Visitors are eager to look, listen, engage in spirited conversation, and carry home flowering plants to fill their window boxes and courtyards. For the hungry, samples were in abundance, including spices, cheeses, chocolates, balsamic vinegar, honey, and biscotti.

During our visit, we spent time talking - in both English and Italian - with an amiable young man named Alessandro Campesi. Alessandro was on hand representing Novotono, a Garlaso, Italy-based design studio (in the Lombardy region southwest of Milan) specializing in garden and living designs in stone. Novotono's display at Murabilia focused primarily on containers for succulent plants, in marble and volcanic stone. We settled upon a small cube in volcanic stone and marble, and two wall containers that we'll eventually install outdoors at our home in Santa Fe. All were simple, featured clean design, and were reasonably priced.

If You Go
Murabilia takes place annually for three days in early September. Entrance fees in 2014: adults 7 euros, seniors 3 euros for one day entrance. For more information, go to Murabilia.

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