Buca di Sant’Antonio

Is a restaurant in Lucca with which I became acquainted with 5 years ago. It has the reputation of being the best restaurant in Lucca and it is well deserved. Buca di Sant’Antonio means Mouth of Saint Anthony. Presumably we are talking about St Anthony of Padua a popular saint from just north of Lucca where I am currently vacationing. In fact, I have a statue of him in my house, not because I have any particular affinity for or with him but because my grandfather had the statue and was presumably praying to him regularly. St Anthony is the patron saint of lost causes (in particular lost “spiritual goods,” whatever that means) and my grandfather had many of them. When he died and I cleaned his apartment I kept the statue. I’ve not ever prayed to it or him even though I have my own set of peculiarly themed lost causes.

I have also been to Padua and seen St Anthony’s “uncorrupted” tongue which is displayed in the cathedral of St Anthony on the high altar in a reliquary. Just the tongue there in an elaborate gold and glass contraption. Uncorrupted might be a stretch. The tongue appeared to be a small black triangle. Be that as it may, I wondered at the time where the rest of him was and why they decided to separate him from his tongue. Only now does the irony that the restaurant is named after a mouth in which there is no tongue occur to me. He’d be unable to taste. Speaking of lost causes.

Our meal there at Buca di Sant’Antonio was exceptional. I had the wild boar with olives, and polenta. The wine, a fabulous Barolo, was miraculous. And I hadn’t even prayed for it. 

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