This is the first of a short series of articles with the title "Barga at night" – the hidden side of Barga that people generally don't see. The idea is to follow and document people who are working while most of us are sound asleep in our beds. We start the series on a sweet note following just what happens in the Pasticceria Lucchesi down in Barga Giardino. The award-winning barganews photographer O'Connor lost a night's sleep as he closely followed the Lucchesi brothers through their working day which starts with a strong black coffee.at 3 a.m. and continues right through to dawn and well into the day.
The two brothers Paolo and Fabio Lucchesi have been in this business for many years following on a family tradition started by their father and uncle who used to run the Onesti bar back in the early 70s. They then moved their operations twice over the years before finally starting up the present Bar and Pasticceria Lucchesi five years ago in 2003 (that article can be seen here) where they make chocolate and pastries in their own bakery and specialist kitchens.
Their whole operation now employs a dozen people, but the bulk of the work during the small hours in the pasticceria is done by just three; Paolo, Fabio and Marco Bertolini. Fabio at a certain point disappeared from view after preparing focaccia and returned shaved and with a freshly pressed shirt and tie ready to take on the early morning shift in the bar leaving Paolo and Marco to carry on preparing the many different sweet pastries that later filled the glass cabinets in the bar. Marco and Paolo, with a combined experience of over 50 years in this business, take this in their stride.
Apart from the machine which now rolls out the pastry, replacing the work once done by rolling pins, all the other tasks in the process are done by hand and in the traditional manner. An incredible time consuming process, and one which unfortunately is no longer being taught as the Master Bakers all over Italy gradually retire and their place is taken by a machine. In fact, there is only one school of Pasticceria remaining in Italy – the time-honoured experience and know-how is generally passed from father to son while they work.
Last year the City of Barga gave its highest honour, the Premio San Cristoforo d’Oro to the Lucchesi brothers. (article here) Named for Barga’s ancient patron, Saint Christopher, the award is presented to celebrate extraordinary contributions to the town and its people. On a far more frivolous note – they also won the Best Toilet of the year award 2004 (article here)