Even though our week started out rocky – when we parked in the wrong spot and had to walk miles (it seemed) with our luggage on that first day – Lucca has won us over in the end. We had a fabulous Easter week, participating in a Good Friday processional, going to Easter services at the Cathedral, and feasting on a delicious 7-course Easter Lunch in a former palazzo turned restaurant (Ristorante Giglio).
Here are some of our other favorite highlights:
San Giovanni Church
This is the church that is the same piazza as our apartment (see photo at top, taken from our window). It dates to the 12th century, which is impressive enough. Add that Puccini was baptized and was the organist there, and even more impressive. But the best was the church sits on top of an archeological treasure trove that was just discovered in 1969. Archeologists were able to excavate 5 layers of ancient Roman roads, religious graffiti from the prior church’s wall, an old baptistery, and a Roman bath – all from different periods. The mosaic pictured below is from the 1st century BC! They have scaffolding, so you can walk underneath the church floor among the ruins. Apparently this isn’t one of the highlights (or now as well known) because we had the place all to ourselves. Amazing!
Music of Puccini
Lucca is the town of Puccini, who was born here and went on to compose La Boheme (Frank’s favorite), Madame Butterfly, and Turandot (my favorite). We went to a concert of some of his works in our neighborhood San Giovanni church listed above. To hear his works in the church where he was baptized and was the organist was a thrill.
Lucca is filled with towers that were used for look-outs and defense. Each important family had their own. We climbed the 13th century tower belonging to the Guinigi Family – it is so big that it even has trees on top! We climbed the 227 steps to reach the top and a great view.
Biking the Ramparts
I already wrote a blog about this, but we loved it so much that I am including again. We on top of the 2,000 year old fortress walls around the city that took a century to build (they are so wide that there are roads and parks on top). It is almost 3 miles around. We did two loops, with a picnic break in the middle. Our most romantic day in Lucca.
Next stop: Lake Como!