Lucca Part II
Lucca is about 30 minutes north of Pisa. Of course, to most people that is a familiar name, because of ‘the leaning tower of Pisa.’ We’ll stop here to take a look. It’s well worth it as long as we can ignore the awful tourist traps nearby, selling baubles and junk souvenirs.
Surrounded by 16th Century walls that were updated in the early 19th Century, built to protect, and I’d say it worked as it was never under siege. The result is that the historic center is well preserved and had maintained its beauty.
In Lucca, we will stay right in the city center near San Michele Piazza, within the walls, so we are in the heart of this Tuscan town. I have arranged for our own tour guide to share his love for and historical knowledge of Lucca–it’s medieval streets, towers and lovely boutiques. We’ll visit a palazzo or two, enchanting Romanesque churches and piazze (town squares) that invite us to experience true Italian living. Outside the walls, the Apuan Alps and fertile plains surround the town. A short drive away are thermal spas and driving west about 30 minutes, you reach the seaside towns of Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi.
The historical center, allows very few cars in the area, which helps them maintain the air of ‘charming old Italy.’ Unlike many cities in Italy, the tourists do not overtake Lucca. She remains with her feet firmly planted in her own beautiful culture. Founded as a Roman colony in 180 BC, you will find remnants of those times everywhere. Down in the basement of San Giovanni Church, I saw the remnants of Roman Baths!
Lucca was a banking and merchant center during the Middle Ages, and known for its silk. In 1500 (when Michelangelo was in Florence creating David), the town has 3,000 silk looms employing 25,000 workers. Lucca is said to produce some of the finest olive oil in the world.
Music is an important part of Lucca. After all, Giacomo Puccini was born here. You’ve probably heard of Madame Butterfly. He wrote this and many beautiful operas. During our trip, we will attend the concert in San Giovanni Church that takes place every evening at 7pm between March 15 and November 15.
The “Puccini e la sua Lucca” festival has the record of being “the only permanent Festival in the World”.
Recitals, opera selections, special concerts (“The Three Tenors”, “Puccini’s heroines” and many others) are performed by a different cast of singers and different program so the audience can enjoy a wide variety of music by Giacomo Puccini. Also, often included is music of other great Italian operatic composers.
Food, culture, outdoors, churches, music, bicycles! That will keep us very happy living the sweet life, la dolce vita.
Photo Credit: ausblick-vom-turm-uber.jpg
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