Portovenere, The Bay of Poets and Lerici, ItalyMay 6, 2018
Siena, Italy home of the famous Palio horse race and fabulous art, architecture and history.May 10, 2018
I bet that you have never heard of the old Medieval town of Lucca, Italy and before my excellent driver and tour operator Patrick Rossi recommended it, neither had I but what a fantastic place. Located at the northern end of the Italian province of Tuscany and relatively unknown compared to, for example Florence, Lucca is one of the few well preserved medieval towns with renaissance city walls, an amazing array of churches dating to the 700s and an array of favorite sons including the famous opera composer Giacomo Puccini, the famous classical composers Francesco Geminani and Luigi Boccherini and a host of others. Founded by the Etruscans, Lucca was a Roman City in 180 BC, an independant republic for over 500 years; was conquered by Napoleon in 1805 and became part of the Italian Republic in 1861. Today Lucca has a population of 85,000 but only about 7500 live within the old walled city. A warren of narrow lanes, lovely piazzas, nearly 100 churches, a Museum in the former birthplace of Puccini and numerous other museums and galleries as well as many music festivals, Lucca will surprise and amaze you. Lovely old buildings, high towers meant to signify the wealth and power of dominant families, an enormous array of cafes and restaurants, Lucca is a delightful walking town and it’s well preserved city walls topped by a path, are popular with joggers and bicyclists. Highlights of my visit included the Duomo di San Martino or St. Martin’s Church, the Ducal Palace begun in 1577, the Casa Puccini museum and the Sam Michele church founded in 777! A horse drawn carriage ride through the old city concluding with a complete circuit of 4 KM around the city walls, while a thunderstorm threatened the skies, was a fitting conclusion to an all too brief visit to this amazing and welcoming Tuscan town. For an idea of a medieval Italian city that still charms today, which one can easily explore on foot, while admiring the architecture, the local residents, the colorful piazzas, the many beautiful churches and the general joy of life, Lucca should be high on your list of places to visit. For myself, I am considering an extended future visit to more fully explore this hidden Tuscan beauty of a town.