Sunday, June 3, 2007

Bucine - Piccolo, ma Corposo...

Lupinari as the better-informed amongst you will know is adjacent to the small town of Bucine (pronounced Boo-chee-nay, emphasis on the nay). At first glance, which is probably all you'll have time for, especially if you blink while driving through it, Bucine looks remarkably similar to many other small Tuscan towns, particularly those not on the tourist map. It seems prosaic and ordinary, without the wonderfully-intact medieval architecture of Montepulciano or Greve in Chianti - "fly-paper for tourists," according to ultimate travel nerd, Rick Steves - and in some ways it is.

However, it almost certainly has several things going for it that the more touristy towns do not - useful shops: butcher, baker, electrical supply store, florist, and food co-op (supermarket); a movie theater (open two days a week) - see at right; and a polo club. Indeed, scratch the surface and there is much more to Bucine than meets the eye. For example, according to local legend, Jesus Christ appeared to the villages' children, standing on an oak log at what is now the site of the sanctuary church of San Salvatore. Then, many followers then led a procession to the site carrying stones for the temple. These stones were all different shapes and sizes, and they can still be seen cemented around the gates of this rural church. Roots of an oak tree were found on the site during renovations in the 19th century and have been preserved for posterity in a display case inside.

For the less devout amongst you, who are looking to spend an afternoon poking around Bucine, perhaps walking off a large lunch of the local specialties, boiled meats and bread soup, you might be interested to visit the town's Palaeontology Museum. On the other hand, palaeontology might be a bit hard to digest, and so, after strolling around the town, you may be curious to know the meaning of the net in the shape of a seashell held by a lion you've seen in various places. Well, wonder no longer, wedding-bloggers, the symbol is the coat-of-arms of one of the former ruling family's of the area, and features this strange trap which was used to catch fish and small birds in the abundant local rivers and streams. The trap is known as a bucine, and is thought to be the origin of the town's name.

All in all, Bucine is perhaps more typical of modern Tuscan towns than the best-known places on the tourist trail. That's not to say that you should avoid one or the other, but that different towns cater to different populations. Bucine caters primarily to its residents and the local rural population, and Montalcino caters primarily to tourists fresh off the bus and jonesing to be shaken-down for souvenirs and over-priced lunches off the tourist menu. It's useful to bear these things in mind, that's all.

Anyway, here's a link to directions/map of Bucine, which is probably more helpful than most of the pointless witterings above.

P.S. - the post title means "small, but full-bodied," which I think fairly sums Bucine up.


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