Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Travel Tuesday (March 18, 2014) -- The Walled City of Lucca, Italy

Aerial view of the walled city of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy.

In 2008, Molly and I visited friends in Stuttgart, Germany and then flew to Milan, Italy.  We rented a small car at the airport in Milan and off we went on a touring circuit that took us into Milan and then on to Florence, Lucca, Pisa, La Spezia, and Cinque Terre before returning to Milan and flying back to Stuttgart for another brief visit on our way back home.

One of the highlights of the trip was the walled city of Lucca, which is famous for having its Renaissance-era walls completely preserved and now transformed from defensive military battlements into a tree-lined promenade for bicyclists and pedestrians. The famous wall encircles the city sitting below and gives the impression of a town in a large bowl. The wall is 4,223 meters in length (13,855 ft.), which is about 2.62 miles. We strolled the entire circumference.  

Entrance into Lucca showing some of the wall to the right.

An entrance into Lucca taken from inside the city.

A section of the sloping, tree-lined wall as seen from inside the walled city. 

A section of the Lucca wall and the grassy perimeter zone immediately outside the wall.

The top of the wall is now a tree-lined promenade surrounding the city. 

Lucca is quite an old city dating back to the Etruscan civilization (circa 700 B.C.) in this part of Italy.  The Romans conquered the area and made Lucca a colony around 180 B.C. Some of the vestiges of Roman architecture and city planning can still be seen in modern Lucca in the way the narrow streets are laid out and in some of the buildings that occupy the site of Roman structures.  Perhaps the most distinctive example is the curved Piazza dell'Anfiteatro that sits on the site of the elliptical Roman amphitheater.

The curved buildings of the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro in Lucca (above and below)

Another distinctive feature of Lucca is the "Case-Torri" or Tower Houses of the city.  These structures are brick homes built as fortified towers by the rich.  The higher the tower home the more it was said to represent a manifestation of the owner's wealth and power. 

Molly and I have developed a rule in our travels to always try to seek out the highest publicly accessible structure in a city (a tower, cathedral, or something similar) to get an aerial view.  In Lucca we climbed the Clock Tower and took the photographs that follow and that show some of the Case-Torri of Lucca.

Lucca as seen from the top of the Clock Tower and showing some of the Case-Torri or Tower Houses.

Close-up of the 125 ft. Torre Guinigi (Guinigi Tower) shown in the upper right quadrant of the photo above.

Lucca is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924), the composer of the operas Madame Butterfly and La Boheme among others.

Lucca is also reputed to have some of the best food in Tuscany -- and our culinary sampling while there would certainly give support to that view.  We had some memorable meals, but one in particular -- the Zuppa di Farro (a barley-like soup) -- was so outstanding we went back the next day to have more for lunch.

The restaurant where we had Zuppa di Farro at dinner and again for lunch the next day.

The canal that runs through Lucca.
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All photographs by the author except the aerial view of Lucca, which was obtained at www.picstopin.com.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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