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Lucca—City of 100 Churches

ITALY | Monday, 11 October 2021 | Views [21]

Moonrise over Lucca's Wall

Moonrise over Lucca's Wall

WE DIDN’T COUNT 'EM, OF COURSE, but Lucca is said to be the “City of 100 Churches.” As a matter of fact, on our visit ten years ago we barely noticed them. In truth, the only mention I gave Lucca in my “vagabonds” journal was to say “…when we arrive in Pisa from Lucca this morning….”

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                       B&B Villa Anna—800 years and counting

But we’re b-a-c-k! We arrived at B&B Villa Anna from Levanto before the approved check-in time so we parked in their lot while we took another look at Lucca. The B&B costs a bit more than we’re accustomed to paying but it has free parking, breakfast included and is only a few minutes from Porta Elisa and Lucca’s charm. 

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Archway at Night

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                                   San Michele

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                                                  Aqueduct 

We strolled along Via Elisa until it became Santa Croce, circled San Michele Cathedral, picked up a city map and headed back to check in. B&B Villa Anna dates back to the 13th Century which makes it a new-comer in Lucca—Caesar himself was here for the Lucca Conference in 56 AD!  

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                      Piazza dell' Antifiteatro—and not a church in sight

After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast we set off on yet another famous “Rick Steve’s Walking Tour.” Connie had plotted the route and memorized many of the details which she fed me in bit-sized chunks. First stop, the Piazza dell' Antifiteatro where the Roman Amphitheater once stood. The only piazza in Lucca sans church, it’s surrounded by buildings made from materials recycled from the former structure. 

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   Stone Bench at city center

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    where old men rest

And I rested on the stone benches at the intersection of Vias Fillungo and Roma/Santa Croce where old men still rest their weary bones. We passed the Truffle store, tartufo in the local tongue to Via Buia, the Dark Street, where tower houses block the sunlight. And speaking of towers, there is the Clock Tower with the stopped clock and Guinigi Tower with a mini-forest on the roof. Really. 

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   Tartufo, anyone?

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                    Does anyone know what time it is?

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                                                  Guingi Tower, the ultimate roof-top garden

And there were churches, of course; San Frediano, San Martino, San Michele in Foro with the angel on top and dozens more. Only San Michele was open without admission charge so we took a peek inside.

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           Interior of San Michele with Wooden Crucifix and Painting by Lippi

Let’s not forget Lucca’s favorite son, composer Giacomo Puccini, who wrote such operas as Tosca, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly.

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       Puccini with his birthplace over his shoulder

We waited until late afternoon to walk on Lucca’s iconic fortress walls. Originally built as defensive ramparts they lost their military importance with the advent of canons. It is said that the only time they withstood an assault was in the 1812 when the portasi were sandbagged to keep the flood waters out. Today they form a 2½ mile pedestrian walkway/bike path/jogging track. 

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           Fine afternoon for a walk

We finished our circumnavigation just after six and went searching for dinner, having forgotten that Italians eat late and most restaurants didn’t reopen until 7:00. We settled for pizza in the shadow of San Michele and walked home under a rising moon.

 

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