A day in Lucca
January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
Upon arrival I don’t know if I was even in the right place. There are NO signs indicating what station I am actually at. Its time we were supposed to be in Lucca, so I get off with a crowd of others.
I ask a girl with hand motions and said ‘Lucca?’ she responded in perfect English, ‘i think so’ …American. And just as confused as I am. Great.
When in doubt, follow the crowd. I exit the station, still praying I am in Lucca.
Then I see it, the wall.
Lucca’s claim to fame is its fully intact fortified wall that cradles the city center. From Ancient Rome to Medieval Times to the Renaissance, this town has kept within its ring.
I see the wall and breathe a sigh of relief ‘si, it’s lucca!’ the next step is to get into the fortified town city.
Once through the wall, (what a threshold!) I find a charming little Tuscan town of twisting cobblestone paths and bright rustic buildings. I take note of the brick buildings in Lucca. Other Italian cities I have visited the walls are plastered over and the only visible bricks seen are those buildings that have fallen to neglect. But Lucca proudly exposes her bricks creating a wonderful palette of rustic rose and amber.
Throughout the day I wander with no destination in mind. I feel like a pinball within the walls of Lucca. From one end to other I bounce back and forth through the soon familiar streets and piazzas. I exit the walls and walk around the perimeter, I sit on the grassy knolls along the fortress and soak up sun.
Lucca is nicknamed the town of 100 churches. A town so small, yet a church around ever corner. I take note of the exteriors of the churches, but after a full week in Rome I can’t manage to go into another church. They are all blurring together in my mind.
I find a cafe (naturally) in the main square and take a seat. While slowly sipping my macchiato I sit behind the glass window of the cafe and people watch. From my hidden position I observe Italians meandering past the large church infront of me. Most are elderly- an old man sporting a plaid baret and scarf riding a bicycle, a plump couple walking hand in hand with matching sunglasses and one Fabio looking fellow with pointy shoes having a loud conversation on his mobile. From my undercover position, I start to sketch these interesting people. Once my sketching frustrates me enough, I pack up and continue to pinball through the town.
Unfortunately most stores are closed on this Monday morning, leaving me to window shop. Probably for the best, my budget went out the window day 2 in Rome.
I continue my exploration of this charming town until my feet tire and the sun begins its descent. I slowly find my way back to the train station but before I do, I stop at a bakery along the way. All day I have seen a certain loaf of raisin bread in bakery windows and wondered about this Lucca delicacy. Upon further research I find it is ‘buccelato’ a Lucca sweet bread invented by a Lucchese baker in 1881. I grab a loaf to bring back to my friends in Florence and head to the train station.
Once at the train station I try my luck at the automatic ticket machines, sometimes they work other times…not so much. Thankfully it works and I grab my ticket.
A train heading to Florence is waiting on the far tack even through it is 15 minutes overdue. Just as I approach it the train decides to speed off, leaving me behind in the dust with an earache from the screeching rails. Thankfully the next train is just 30 minutes behind. After using the trains so frequently in Copenhagen, I am accustomed to waiting. I make it to track 4 and sit next to two elderly women and wait. And continue to wait. And continue to wait. The track platform begins to crowd with others waiting. The arrival time comes and goes, still no sign of a train. Continue waiting. The elderly women next to me are getting restless and are having a frustrated conversation in Italian.
Finally, 25 minutes later than anticipated and over an hour since I arrived at the station the train arrives. Just part of the Italian experience I suppose. I board, warm up and watch the Tuscan landscape blur into a fabric of greens, yellows and reds.
What a day in Lucca.