Lovely Lucca

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lucca is a town with one significant feature: it is encircled by a medieval wall, which is 17 feet in width. Lime-green trees grow on the medieval wall, and people bike on it; it's a bit like the seawall in Vancouver.

Lucca is so old that it even has a church with 8th century Byzantine mosaics. It also has a straight Roman road cutting through it, the Via Roma. And, as any medieval city, it is crammed with tiny alleyways, beautiful and intimate little piazzas, and more churches than you can count.

We only spent one night in Lucca, but so far it has been my favourite day in Italy. We plunged into Lucca at midday, after our train ride, checked out several churches, including a striped one like the Duomo in Siena, the Cathedral di St. Michel, and got generally oriented to the city.

After our orientation walk, I headed first for the tower topped by a tree! Apparently all the wealthy families in Lucca had these hanging rooftop gardens in medieval times, but only one rooftop garden on the top of a tower—complete with a tree – survives. I didn’t climb the tower, though; I was content to admire it from afar.

In the hot afternoon, all the boutique stores were closed, so I stumbled upon a department store and did a little bit of shopping. I got a pretty green top, some swimming gear, and earrings.

Then I walked on the top of Lucca’s medieval wall. The wall is filled with joggers, old ladies, and moms with strollers – exactly like the seawall, except that the medieval wall encircles the city. Lucca even has a moat (more like a ditch). On one side of the wall, I had clear views of the hills of Tuscany. On the other side of the wall, I had a rooftop view of the city. It was a peaceful afternoon.

In the late afternoon, three of us from the tour group decided to hear selections from operas by Puccini, sung in the same church that Puccini attended when in Lucca. The acoustics in the church were amazing, and the opera singers sang selections from La Traviata, La Boheme, and other operas. The singing was sublime, so good that I felt goosebumps when the soprano hit the high notes.

In the evening, our tour guide Antonella brought us to her family’s restaurant on the outskirts of Lucca. It was an impromptu visit, one not the itinerary, but we all had a great time meeting Antonella’s family, including her father. The food was amazing – delicious prosciutto and cheeses, and as a main course, mushroom tagiatelle, the best I’ve ever tasted, handmade by Antonella’s mother. Antonella’s cousin brought over some homemade grappa for us to sample, which was smooth and sweet. I really enjoyed the comfortable, homey atmosphere of the restaurant, and watching Antonella with her loving family was fun (and made me miss home!)
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Chris on

Beautiful... and to hear the opera of Puccini in the place where his music sprung from... ah! Love the food shots too!

dad on

I missed ur writing. I was looking at my email this morning but found none until ur mom called to tell me u already sent. is nice to get out of the beaten path of main tourist destination to experience something Italianoo. Love u

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