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 :
I love Debs to bits but I needed a big coat, scarf and gloves for this one!
Much warmer in Lady Lee’s homeland, the Philippines :
I read this one with great interest, as I was Anglesey bound. Thanks, Eunice!
On the beach at Barnes? Only with Geoff (and Dog!)
So nice to see my part of the world through fresh eyes. Especially such observant ones as Jude’s :
Where’s Woolly this week? Why Lucerne, of course!
Jackie is still hanging around Mazatlan, and it’s easy to see why!
Ever wanted to volunteer on a kibbutz? This is a good year. Do read Lisa’s post!
Bringing back such wonderful memories of my time in Paris! Thanks, Drake :
Miriam is a joy to be with, especially when she’s feeling light-hearted :
While Carol knows how to appreciate a good hill or two. I seem to remember that from our meeting :
Please give a big welcome to Cadyluck Leedy for her wonderfully original introduction to Cairo :
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!