Jo’s Monday walk : the walled city of Lucca

Shall I quote Henry James?  Lucca is a city “overflowing with everything that makes for ease, for plenty, for beauty”.  With a recommendation like that, how could I fail to try to squeeze it into our precious few days in Tuscany?

There was an ulterior motive , of course.  The city lies in a flat plain at the foot of the Apuan Alps, an hour or more’s train ride from our base in Florence.  I would have an opportunity to see a little of the Tuscan landscape, and the other half would get to rest the weary legs after the dizzying heights of Florence .  He would need this in preparation for the 4km walk around the city walls.  Not too far, is it?

No matter that you’ve seen photos, the reality is always a little different.  I knew that the city walls had been turned into a boulevard for that much-loved Italian pastime, passegiata, but still I didn’t comprehend the scale.  I found myself grinning as I strode across the grass towards the nearest bastion, one of eleven positioned around these 16th century walls.

Over a narrow moat, through a tunnel and up some steps, and there I was, looking down on Lucca.  A friendly lion gave me a silly smile, and I began to stroll.  Far in the distance, the snowcapped Alps.  Near at hand, elderly couples enjoying the gentle sunlight, cyclists whizzing by, toddlers tottering on 2 or 3 wheels or pushing dolls prams, and students sauntering off to lectures. All of life, it seemed to me.

Looking down from the walls provides views of the botanic gardens and wonderful snippets of the life of the Lucchesi.  A pedalo comes towards me, a dog perched haughtily in the basket up front.  I’m so busy smiling, I miss the shot!

At intervals I’ve glimpsed the bell tower of the Duomo di San Martino, the cathedral.  Time to descend, beneath nodding magnolia, and seek it out.

Construction of this striking cathedral began in 1063, the great apse and campanile remaining, still, from the original.  The nave and transepts were rebuilt in Gothic style in the 14th century, one of many reconstructions.  Entering, my eyes are immediately drawn to the ceiling.

I first learned the story of Ilaria del Carretto through a blogging friend, Ventisqueras.  Born in Pisa, and loving her native Tuscany with a passion, she impressed me with the magnificence of this tomb.  Wife of Paolo Guinigi, an influential politician, Ilaria died very early in childbirth. Jacopo della Quercia, of Siena, was commissioned to keep her beauty alive.

Leaving the cathedral, I go wandering in search of food and a place to sit awhile.  I’m heading in what I think is the direction of Piazza Antifeatro but before too long I’m lost in the maze of streets.  Lucca has her share of lovely squares and exceptional architecture.  Eventually I settle in Piazza San Michele, the site of a Roman forum, with San Michele in Foro towering over me.

I feel sure that Lucca has much more to offer to offer me, but my companion has had enough. Reluctantly I return to the station, dawdling where I can.  The exterior of Basilica di San Frediano, founded by an Irish bishop in the 6th century, invites.  The square in front of it, idle with newspaper readers and peaceful observers of life, a serious temptation.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this charming city, whose wealth was founded on silk and lingerie.  I wanted to show you Torre Guinigi and climb to the roof garden, symbol of the rebirth of the city under the Guinigi family.  Instead I must ask you to read the links throughout the post for a much fuller picture of Lucca than I can give you here.  I hope you enjoyed it.

It’s been a busy week for me.  Three days on the Isle of Anglesey and a walk through Farndale’s daffodils seem to have eaten up most of it.  I’m sorry if I’ve fallen behind with my visits but very grateful for your continued support.  I’ll be playing catch up this week because next Sunday I’m off to the Algarve for 2 weeks.  I will continue to welcome walks but won’t be posting while I’m there.  Details as always are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Let’s put the kettle on now, and settle in for a good read!

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

So much more than a walk, I really enjoyed Annika’s visit to Framingham.  I simply had to share this one :

‘Perfume of the Mountain Grass’

I love Debs to bits but I needed a big coat, scarf and gloves for this one!

Wintry Central Park

Much warmer in Lady Lee’s homeland, the Philippines :

Batanes Day Trip 1

I read this one with great interest, as I was Anglesey bound.  Thanks, Eunice!

A walk round Parys Mountain

On the beach at Barnes?  Only with Geoff (and Dog!)

Barnes by the Sea #walking#london

So nice to see my part of the world through fresh eyes. Especially such observant ones as Jude’s :

An amble around Durham’s Cathedral

Where’s Woolly this week?  Why Lucerne, of course!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk 11

Jackie is still hanging around Mazatlan, and it’s easy to see why!

Just Another Day…

Ever wanted to volunteer on a kibbutz?  This is a good year.  Do read Lisa’s post!

Pura Nature Reserve

Bringing back such wonderful memories of my time in Paris!  Thanks, Drake :

Home away from home

Miriam is a joy to be with, especially when she’s feeling light-hearted :

Whimsical Walkabout Wednesday

While Carol knows how to appreciate a good hill or two.  I seem to remember that from our meeting :

Up to the Top

Please give a big welcome to Cadyluck Leedy for her wonderfully original introduction to Cairo :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Me, You and Agatha Christie

And that’s it for another week!  Brilliant, aren’t they?  I may be scheduling a walk for next Monday, but it rather depends how the week goes.  I’ll keep you posted.  Meantime, take care of yourselves and enjoy your walking!

160 comments

  1. What a beautiful place and you sound so joyous as you recall the time you spent walking around. Thank you Jo, I thoroughly enjoyed this walk around Lucca and hope to do it in person one day. Enjoy your time the Algarve! Happy travels 🙂

  2. This is very timely, Jo. We’re going on a Mediterranean Cruise next week and one of the stops is Livorno, just down the road from Lucca. We considered spending our day in Lucca, but in the end have decided to drive up to Cinque Terre. You’ve got me second-guessing myself! http://bit.ly/SSC13-Water

  3. The visuals in this post practically brought me to tears they are so beautiful. Each one making me ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’. Although I am sailing with an Italian Captain, I have never traveled to Italy. I am now more motivated than ever to visit but it will be awhile.

    I submitted my latest post to Jo’s Monday Walks because I thought of you the whole time I was drinking in Singapore’s nature. Hope you are well. Big Hug.

    1. Thank you so much, hon 🙂 Just the other day I saw you commenting and flew off to see if there was a new post. My time in Italy was so short, Lisa, but incredibly beautiful. Returning those hugs!

  4. I’ve visited Lucca but your photos from the walls allowed me another angle. It’s a beautiful place and your photos are, as always wonderful. When I visited I had teenagers with me who had to be appeased with gelato 🙂

  5. Your intro made me laugh as MrB and I did exactly the same thing but from Porto . . . an hour train trip for him to Aveiro and an adventure for me at the end! No bookstall though for him at the end to make it as perfect as Lucca 🙂

    Just loving seeing Tuscany through your eyes, one day I will make it there. Can’t wait to catch up with properly here in the Algarve xx

      1. oh wow I’ve been somewhere you have not yet been!! You’ll love it . . all the boats. 🙂 Not sure when the post will appear because as you say I have all the pictures to go through. I did get a little bit carried away. The downside of digital over film!!

        We did think of heading to Braga too but that has been saved for another day.

      2. Didn’t manage Douro or the Foz! The one day we had planned for boat travel turned out to be the busiest day and so MrB almost ran the opposite direction from the crowds . . . still did mean I got to discover a few more gardens 🙂

  6. Wow! What a beautiful place. The buildings look incredible, especially the ceiling in the cathedral. Would love to go there

    1. Nice to meet you 🙂 You ended up in my Spam box which is why I’m slow replying. You are in my Inbox to visit because I always do try to return calls but I am extremely busy right now and away again on Sunday. Will catch up as soon as possible.

  7. Oh how I loved reading your post about Lucca. I adore Italy, and I would have been doing the same thing as you…walking and taking it all in with a big old smile on my face. You are too funny, Jo!

    1. If I don’t have a big smile on my face in Lucca then I’ve come to the wrong place, Elisa. Mick almost had to drag me kicking and screaming onto the train 🙂 🙂

  8. I loved this walk, couldn’t help it, Italy is one of the favorites to photograph! My favorite photo was the yellow table and umbrella in the piazza! My what was that drink? And a loved the yellow bicycle too!

    1. The drink was with ‘the knee’ at the next table 🙂 I was tempted to ask for a sip. It really is the most charming city and I totally didn’t want to leave.

  9. ciaom cara Giovanna, ti ringrazio per la citazione sulla “mia Ilaria”!
    ero gia passata ieri, ho visto con infinito piacere la tua visione su Lucca e la sua raffinata eleganza, ma non ero riuscita ad inviare il commento, speriamo stamane di non avere la stessa sorte!
    Sono felice che ti sei immedesimata nello spirito di questa città così signorile e particolare, camminare sulle sue mura e nelle strade medioevali di Lucca dentro ( perché sai ci sono due città Lucca dentro e Lucca fora, la Lucca più moderna )è sempre una emozione, sembra sempre di vedere spuntare qualche anntico cavaliere con l’armatura oppure riccamente vestito in velluti!
    ti ringrazio ancora per lo splendido percorso
    buon inizio della primavera cara

    1. Lucca seemed to me to have warmth, intimacy and romanticism. It was all that I expected and more, Annalisa. Thank you for sharing with me this lovely city. Even on brief acquaintance I can see why it is very special to you. I loved it! Hugs, cara! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! 🙂 🙂

  10. Ah, Lucca – now that is a place we considered visiting and using it as a base to see Florence and Siena etc. Our previous neighbours went there every year. Now you have been to both what would you suggest? I’m thinking it would be quieter than Florence but on the other hand Florence has more to see. Lovely photos Jo, they just get better! And maybe poor Mick was still recovering from your hike up the hill the day before! (I have a grandson named Luca – what is it with my son and Italian names…)

    1. Hiya darlin 🙂 I don’t think you could do justice to Florence from a base elsewhere, Jude. As you say, so much to see there! Lucca has an intimacy and a style that you might prefer and I admit I was torn and really didn’t want to leave. My infamous map reading skills wore Mick out, as I tried to find Piazza Antifeatro unsuccessfully. We should have stopped in the first sunbathed piazza but pigheadedly I carried on, so we ended up in the beautiful cocktail bar you see in the photo. Mick couldn’t see anything on the menu that didn’t have cheese so we ended up with a bowl of peanuts 😦 Not even cake! So he was grumpy with me. Maybe a 2 centre base, with more nights in Florence? Thanks, hon 🙂 🙂

    1. I fell in love with Italy all over again, Carol. It has a warmth and love of life that seems to me unique. Thanks so much for keeping me company along the way. I appreciate it. 🙂

  11. I’m smitten Jo, Lucca was tentatively on my list time permitting, you’ve bumped it up higher now. I love, love, love these photos and a 4km walk is perfect, I could talk to people couldn’t I? 🙂

    1. You could, Gilly, and I think you’d like it very much! There was an open market going on just within the walls too and what with that and the book stall… near perfection 🙂 And I never even mentioned cake!

  12. A beautifully written post by a fickle lover. You’re just as enamoured of Luca as you are of Florence. Which of course means you enable me to share your love. Where are all the people? They appear in your words, but not your photos. Strange. After a year in the city, I notice the lack of people, whereas before I resented their presence! Your photos are wonderful, and the pleasures are so diverse. Hugs from a luminous rainy morning that will probably turn muggy.

    (snippetsandsnaps will go active when WordPress transfers premium – a couple of posts under draft)

    1. I’m a little in love with Tuscany, Meg 🙂 And I won’t be the first! I felt a little deprived in Lucca. It did deserve more time, which we really didn’t have. And Mick wasn’t happy when I kept getting us lost. He wanted to just get on the train for Pisa, which we did. It’s almost certain that I’ll never go back and I hate wasted opportunity.
      There are people but you have to look close 🙂 🙂 At least one knee in the cafe, a small person crossing the grass and in the first photo lots of idle folk 🙂 🙂 Heading for a cold spell here but there are daffs and tulips everywhere!!! Hugs from a hearth with softly pink and white roses 🙂

  13. Wow, you saw more sights in Lucca than we did – beautiful images, Jo! Our excuse was resting from having 3 painting shows and workshops in Holland – which was exhausting – we learned – never go on vacation immediately after workshops! But – we still loved our time there, and went to Southern France by car, because I wanted to see the Chagall museum in Nice,
    and we both wanted to see Cinque Terre, at the border or France and Itally – my advise – don’t go there in summer -too hot and too many people (this, of a person who has lived in Los Angeles!).
    Have a great week, Jo!

    1. Thanks, Jesh 🙂 🙂 May/June was always our preferred time for Italy, though often we got rained on, at least a little. 🙂 I still hanker after Cinque Terre.

      1. No, sadly not- Cinque Terre we never made! 😦 Venice, Lakes Garda, Maggiore and Como, the Amalfi Coast and long, long ago, Cattolica near Rimini! 🙂

  14. So beautiful and peaceful, Jo. I could walk through this city for days with you. The photos are amazing as well. And, the marble dog on the death bed shows devotion and love for pets back in the day as well. Glad to see that. You have been very busy! Enjoy the preparation for your next trip down south!

    1. The Algarve will be very laidback, apart from a few walking expeditions, Liesbet. 🙂 Prep is minimal because my summer clothes are mostly there already. Much blog stuff to fit in though 🙂 🙂 Thanks a lot!

    1. With one more day I’d have done Siena too, Anabel 😦 Such a beautiful part of the world! Thanks very much. Got your pingback. I’ll be along soon. Just getting my breath back 🙂

    1. It will stay long in my memory too, Sally, though maybe not for all the right reasons. My navigating skills were not good in the time frame that we had, but I did love it. 🙂 🙂

    1. I absolutely loved Lucca, Cathy, and would have liked to stay longer. I should have pushed the boat out and booked a week, but we made the very best of what we had. 🙂 🙂 Packing soon?

  15. Another stroll down memory lane. I too was in Lucca for only a day but didn’t manage to see near as much as you. The tomb of Ilaria del Carretto…her beauty cast in stone is remarkable.

    1. Hi Karen! I would never have heard of her if it hadn’t been for Ventisqueras. I didn’t find Piazza Antifeatro though, much to my chagrin! I’m sure we passed close by 🙂 🙂

  16. Such beautiful views, and you took so many wonderful photos of your walk. It looks like it was a beautiful day for it. My favorite part though – I sense your joy in the experience from your descriptions of everything. Thank you for letting us see it through your eyes!

    1. That’s such a nice thing of you to say, Susan. It’s the reason I run this blog. The time it consumes is quite ridiculous but I love to share the emotion of the moment. 🙂 🙂

  17. Oh, I loved Lucca! We did it on a day visit too and it’s not long enough. Didn’t know about that walk round the city walls, but in the height of midsummer as it was for us it would have been quite a challenge. Stunning magnolia against the deep blue of the sky.

  18. Lucca is amazing and another absolutely charming Italian city I fell in love with over there. It helped that I had relatives who played guide. Wonderful photos Jo. 🙂 Thanks for adding my whimsical walk! xo

    1. I needed your relatives, Miriam! We kept ending up back at the walls and Mick wasn’t best pleased as he just wanted to sit somewhere. I must have missed Piazza Antifeatro by a whisker 🙂 🙂 You’re welcome, hon!

    1. I was in Anglesey for 3 days, Andrew, and the Palazzo Vecchio post was quite time consuming. I decided if I did my six words I’d still be replying to everyone and there’d be no walk today. 🙂 🙂 Six Words is ending on 1st April for good so the one I do this Saturday will be my last. End of an era 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Anna. I worried I couldn’t do it justice with just half a day spent there but I did my best. Do you know Ventisqueras? You might have a lot in common. I agree, it is enchanting! 🙂 🙂

  19. Ahhh it has been a long time. Too long to contemplate.. but I have been to Lucca and so I really enjoyed this stroll with you down memory lane. It was my first time in Italy as an adult and a group of us were staying in a house in the nearby countryside with Lucca being the nearest “big city”. Delightful!
    Peta

  20. Jo, I’m enraptured with Lucca and you give us a real flavour of the town…the wall walk a real joy and such stunning buildings and gardens, think a backdrop of the Alps! This seems like a place to visit for a few days and I’m impressed what you managed to see in just one day. Isn’t it lovely to just sit in such a delightful square after a morning sightseeing and absorb the atmosphere around. Many thanks for posting the link to my post! Have a wonderful time in Portugal! 😀😀 I’m off to Sweden in under two weeks and can’t wait…hopefully no floods in the summer houses this year!

    1. I have friends who stayed in Lucca and used it as a base to visit Florence and the surrounds, but then of course you don’t see so much of Florence. Unless you have lots of time/cash it’s all a juggling act but I did enjoy it so. Thanks, hon! You’ll be gone when I get back so have a great time! 🙂 🙂

  21. Wonderful walk Jo – what a gorgeous place Lucca is! Have thoroughly enjoyed “strolling” round with you. The pace of life seems a welcome anecdote to the stresses of modern life – such lovely buildings and old streets with glimpses of the Alps too. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and enjoy next week’s break in the Algarve! 🙂

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