We have left Umbria and back in Tuscany – up north in Lucca. We will be here through Easter. Lucca is surrounded by huge fortified walls that are so thick that there are parks and a road on top. These walls intimidated their rivals so much that there were not actually any battles here. So they were a good deterrent.
After a bit of a rough start, we are settling in and having fun discovering this new place.
A Rocky Start
Our apartment in Lucca is within the city walls in the historic area, so we knew parking could be tricky. We studied the map and guidebooks. Our greeter had sent suggestions for a couple of parking lots, so we programmed one into our GPS and felt armed and ready.
Well, nothing could have prepared us for our arrival in Lucca. After coming from sleepy little Norcia, where the hotel staff came out and stood in the road waving good-bye, it seemed huge!
Our GPS took us right to the suggested parking, which was within the walls – whew. We got out and studied the signs – meter parking with coins only, but overnight free until 8 am. Frank and I scrambled to buy a couple of hours that would hold us over to morning. We couldn’t figure out where we were on the guidebook map but decided to carry a few bags while we located the apartment and then come back for the rest. We figured, it’s all within the walls, how far can it be?
Well, we walked. And we walked. And we walked. It turns out we were almost at the other end of Lucca. We did not realize that the circumference of the town walls is at least 3 miles, so we walked a long way. We were hot, tired, and not really speaking by the time we finally made it to our new home on Piazza San Giovanni (a good test for the newlyweds!).
Our greeter was there waiting and said we had gone to the wrong “suggested” parking place – she said the other suggested spot was a 5-minute walk. But for both, the cost is 1.50 Euro per daylight hour, so we would need nearly 15 Euro in coins per day – plus we’d have to keep running over to feed the meter. Frank asked how we would get all that change, and she didn’t know. But at least we were set for the night.
After the greeter left, I pulled out the Rick Steves book. He mentioned a free parking lot that is a 10-minute walk outside the city walls. We debated what to do and decided we were better off moving the car – or else we’d have to be up by 8 am with 15 Euros worth of coins – every single day.
So we walked, walked, walked back to where we had left the car, navigated our way back outside the city walls, and found a huge gravel lot the size of about 8 football fields, holding only a dozen cars and a traveling carnival. We unloaded the rest of our bags and gamely pulled our suitcases across gravel, cobblestones, and dirt until we were back within the city walls. We had regained our humor enough by then to even take pictures (see picture at top). We have not been back to the car and have no idea if it is still there.
I have to say that the apartment is stunning. It is a former palazzo on a square overlooking San Giovanni church – which now serves as an auditorium for Puccini concerts (he was from Lucca). We feel like royalty in the living room, which is light and airy with huge windows. And the dining room seats 8! Frank and I have breakfast on one end and lunch on the other!
The best are the ceilings – frescoed and just gorgeous. It is like living in a magazine!
Epilogue: It is a few days later, and we have definitely warmed up to Lucca. It is like a little Florence with interesting sites, friendly people, and good food. We spent our first day here just resting from our adventure and making a list of all the things we want to do. So stay tuned . . . . Oh, we still have not been back to the car – fingers crossed it is still there and in one piece!
The View of our Piazza: