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The walled-city of Lucca

Lucca is a splendid walled-city, lies just to the north east of Pisa. I am not sure why there aren’t more people visiting this small city, but I am certainly grateful that we got to enjoy it without being jostled about. Founded over two millennia ago (even Julius Caesar had been here, and Puccini called it his hometown), it had seen days of glory (it was an independent city state, like Venice, until Napoleon came along) as well as certain decline (the fall into the Tuscan’s hand). Luckily, it had also retain plenty of charm to make this a worthy detour when travelling in the region. Hands down, better than Pisa!

Lucca

Lucca

The very first thing any visitor should do is to rent a bike. While Lucca is the kind of place one could happily saunter from one end to another, there is much more fun to be had on two wheels, especially when you could start touring the city by way of its intact Renaissance-era city walls and tree-lined ramparts. Very leisurely, a full turn takes about 20-25 minutes to complete. And you’d want to do it more than once, or maybe even in the other direction.

This was how F and I discovered the Palazzo Pfanner, its beautifully-tended garden, and the watchful sculptures within. The mansion itself is not too shabby either. We also spotted the many grand cathedrals with their towers/campanile (San Martino, San Michele di Foro, San Frediano…) within the walls, and other not uninteresting sights beyond the walls, as the city expanded over time. It was a shame we didn’t have time to explore outside of the historic centre.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

We did eventually returned our rental bikes and went for a walkabout, mainly in the area around the Piazza Anfiteatro and the many small streets surrounding it. As the name may have clued you in – this was a former Roman amphitheater, in a perfect oval shape, but today converted into eclectic circular row of shops and restaurants. Some restaurants and cafés extended their seating into the piazza, but they appeared very much tourist traps to us.

Steps away, the Basilica di San Frediano dominates the piazza it sits in. A Romanesque church dedicated to St Vincent, its façade of golden mosaic depicting the Ascension of Christ and His Apostles is quite a sight to behold. I could not stop staring at it, and my attempts to photograph it was far from easy. With the sun high over, the mosaic came out rather dull instead of its shimmering glow in real life.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Within the basilica, its central nave was contradictorily simple, with smooth marble walls and few adornments – rather minimalist, if you ask me, given what we’ve seen in most Italian cathedrals and churches. However, stepping into the chapels and the aisles, there is a different story to be told. They are lavishly decorated, painted and sculpted. I was rubbish at identifying the various themes of the artworks within these parts of the basilica, so all I did was admiring them as I went along.

We didn’t check out the other churches and cathedrals though, for we did not want to go overboard and ended up seeing too much of the same. After visiting quite a few in Rome (and not necessarily photographed), and knowing that we would have a few more Italian cities coming up in our itinerary, church-fatigue may set in. There was no point in accelerating the process.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Torre Guinigi is the place to go for anyone wishing to have a panoramic view of Lucca. From afar, it looks like a tower with a rooftop garden which large trees provide shades (and shelter?) to its visitors. The surrounding mountain ranges provide a stunning backdrop to this city. While we were there, a storm was also brewing from afar and it was impressive to witness the menacing clouds approaching at a considerable speed. Within minutes, we were seeking for covers from the fat falling drops of rain.

We wandered around a little bit more, before heading back to our B&B for a short pre-dinner rest. We haven’t yet the chance to see much of the western part of the city, but our feet were protesting from the amount of walking we were doing. We did not visit any of the handful few museums around, and we did not step into any villa or palazzo either. F reckoned we should consider retiring here, if it doesn’t become yet another tourist-filled Tuscan city.

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca

Of course, an Italian vacation day is incomplete without daily dose of gelati. Did we get some? Of course! Not only that, it was also in Lucca that we tested out a rather fancy restaurant, serving “very unusual and strange food” – to quote the owner of our B&B. I think he was perhaps also disappointed that we were not more enthusiastic about wine-bar crawls pre- and post-dinner, but given how tired we were from a full day of activities, a small glass of wine would have knocked us out.

I’m now debating if I should devote an entire blog post to that extraordinary dinner that we had. I was a bad blogger for I did not take any note whatsoever of the dishes that we were served. Clearly, yours truly was having too much fun devouring (and discreetly photographing) the tasting menu… ;)

Lucca: full photoset on Flickr

All posts in this series:
Italy: Postcards: Centro Storico di Roma | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: 2-hours in Florence | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The walled city of Lucca | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Dining in Lu.C.C.A – L’Imbuto
Italy: Sunsets of Cinque Terre
Italy: The villages of Cinque Terre | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: Lost in Parma
Italy: Bologna: the city of a gazillion porticoes | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca
Italy: Verona: a lot more than a Shakespearean drama | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: In search of Padua
Italy: A very picturesque Bassano del Grappa | Flickr Photoset



Category: Europe, Italy, Travel

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6 scribbles & notes

  1. m3d says:

    Good food, gelati, great view and cycling as well….hmmmmmm…lucky u lil ;)

  2. helene says:

    Alors vous pensez déjà à votre retraite ensemble ? ;)

  3. sila says:

    it looks so inviting. there’s just way too many places to visit now… :)

Scribble a note to sila × Cancel reply


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