Lucca is just 60 kilometres from Florence, still in Tuscany, but as a small walled city, it is is another world. Rosanna Capitani of Eliotropica a company helping women to travel, had suggested we stay and organised us a great apartment inside the city walls, right beside the open canal which cut through the city.
It only took us a day and we pretty much had the feel of the city – where we were and how to get places. The 3-4 km long city walls are all intact and have a wide avenue at the top of them. At any time of the day there are hundreds of people walking and biking them. Sunset is a particularly popular time, people walking arm in arm or in groups or walking their dogs while the sun sets behind the hills.
Since we have arrived the snow has arrived, and the night air is very chilly, but this does not seem to lesson the numbers of people promenading, they just wear more clothes.
I hired a bike one day, and in one hour did the walls and most of the city’s streets. Cars are restricted inside the walls, so it is very bike friendly.
Lucca seems very aware of the challenge of the off season, and seems to have an ongoing series of events throughout the shoulder and winter seasons – many of them world class – including Jazz. Bike races and Cosplay with its focus on comics and comedy
Puccini e la sua Lucca: Pucinni was born in Lucca and has a strong association with the area and this festival dedicated to him runs from November through to April with a concert on every night of the week (except Thursdays) at 7pm at the Church of San Giovanni www.puccinielasualucca.com I went on Saturday night to the concert “A Night at the Opera” It was superb and just 15E – two soloists and a pianiist.
Lucca Digital PHOTOfest: 15 Nov-8 Dec 2008: We only got to 2 of the 12 exhibitions, but they were world class. The 51st World Press Photo Contest attracted over 80,000 entries and the best of them were on display in what would become a travelling exhibition to over 50 countries. Faces was an amazing exhibiton which for the first time retraces the history of environmental portrait photography in the 20th Century through the works of 17 artists including Arnold Newman, Andy Warhol, Larry Clark ….
Tastes of Tuscany: In Tuscany of course we must celebrate food, and in Lucca we must celebrate the food Lucca – there is such a strong pride in local produce. Saturday mornings there are markets and as the appointed chef of our trip, it was great fun shopping for some evening meals to enjoy in our apartment.
We also stumbled on a large indoor food celebration – Il Desco – Sapori e Saperi Lucchesi in Mostra was a local food fest at Real Collegio just behind St Frediano Church. Here we tasted olive oils, wine, cheeses, processed meats – including the most delicious white lard. And upstairs in the auditorium there were free concerts of opera, tuscan songs, and hungarian folk dancing. We were in heaven.