Lucca! Lucca! Lucca! I am in love!!!! And no, not with an Italian man… although that’s not a bad idea, but I am in love with the town Lucca! Lucca was a pleasant surprise. On Sunday my intentions were to go Bologna, but when I arrived at the train station to purchase tickets the time schedule didn’t correspond with mine. Instead of going home I asked the cashier what she would recommend for a day trip. She suggested Lucca. Five minutes later and only six Euros, I was on a train to Lucca. I had no idea what to expect. But when I arrived, I fell in love!
First thing was first! Find a tourist shop. Granted it was Sunday, I thought it would be closed but it wasn’t, lucky me!!! I realized Lucca was a small town which would be easy for me to navigate.
Lucca is a breathtaking little Tuscan town that is protected by walls that were built in the 16th century. The lady at the tourist center gave me an alternative path to enter Lucca and said I would have to climb up in order to enter Lucca. (Looking back I think there was a language barrier with the word “climb” As I approached the end of the path I realized it was a dead end. I thought I would have to literally climb the wall, or maybe I had taken the wrong path. As I was about to turn around I saw a small door to the right of me. As I entered, there was a flight of stairs that led me to Lucca.
The first thing I saw as I approached Lucca was the trees. Right now it’s changing of the season and the leaves were such vibrant colors of orange and yellow. Back home in California the seasons are mild, so it is rare to see drastic changes of fall.
|Ummmm a dead end? Nope the door was to the right|
|It's so sad to see graffiti|
I didn’t have any expectations; I knew Lucca had a lot to offer. I just had to be open about exploring and running into things as I went. The first thing I came across was café Cellini. Of course they had hot chocolate and it was very cold outside so this justified my spending. I only wish I had asked how much before I ordered because it was three Euros. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
The streets of Lucca are very narrow so there aren’t a lot of cars. This was very refreshing because in most of my travels I am constantly on guard with cars constantly whizzing by.
San Michele church was the first major building I ran into. It is the most photographed view in Lucca. Because it was late in the afternoon and on a Sunday, there weren’t many tourist. There isn’t an entrance fee. So we went in. What I noticed first was how quiet it was inside. It was so quiet, that when I walked, it echoed throughout the entire church.
Piazza Anfiteatro was well worth my time and should not be missed! The piazza was built on the site of an original Roman amphitheater. There are some original elements remaining that are on the outer walls. The amphitheater can be traced back to the 2nd century A.D. and in 1830 it was restored. What makes the piazza so significant is its shape—a circle. In the piazza there are little shops and cafes. The piazza is the center of cultural activities, music and festivals and fairs.
It is November and already there are window displays for Christmas. In Italy Thanksgiving does not exist and so there is preparation for Christmas. I really wish I could spend Christmas in Lucca because it has that small town feeling and got the vibe that there is a lot of tradition during the holidays. Christmas spirit in Lucca seems to be personalized rather than the “Hallmark” version of Christmas back in the States.
While exploring, I ended up on the other side of town and left Lucca’s wall. There is a bike path outside where many locals take there dogs out for a walk. Seems simple and yet so beautiful with the illumination of lights and trees. I feel I am not conveying how stunning Lucca is. It really needs to be experienced rather than read about.
There are other sites to see. Don’t miss out on Church of San Frediano. Manzi Palace, there are a collection of paintings. Duomo of San Martino is the cathedral church of Lucca. Case Guinigi and the Guinigi Tower are two landmarks representing a great example of mediaeval architecture. A significant amount of houses, buildings and churches resemble medieval architecture.
What made Lucca memorable and special was at night. There are many lights that lit up and I could see the shadows of the trees and Lucca’s wall. It was also raining. Not a heavy rain but enough to see the rain fall in front of me. Lucca’s atmosphere is quiet and I could finally hear my own thoughts without being interrupted by my surroundings. When I think of Italy, I imagine a town like Lucca. As I departed Lucca, I felt as though I left a part of me in the town. I had such a strong bond with Lucca. I hope one day, I will be able to return. Lucca has been my favorite place that I have gone to in Europe. I think it will be very hard for me to find another town like Lucca. Who knows, I might just move there next fall or winter to experience the holidays.