I first fell in love with Lucca at the age of 14 when I stopped in the city on my way from Pisa. I had previously spent sometime at Ostia; a great base to visit Rome, then took the train to Florence. That amazing summer had been organized as a family exchange, and for me a teenage grand tour opened my eyes to the wonders of Italy.
Although I’d only spent an afternoon in Lucca, the city with its tree-lined walls, its narrow streets, its surprising churches and palaces and its intimate scale made an indelible impression on me. I preferred Lucca’s atmosphere to all the other places I’d seen that summer (and I still do).
I next returned to Lucca as a married man on our way to the seaside at Viareggio. The city was as magical as ever. Here are some photos of that time way back in the 1980’s.
To think that Lucca would have become my nearest city – a place which I would become more acquainted with its mysterious atmosphere – a place where I would go to concerts, shop, eat out, work or just wander about in as the fancy took me was only in my dreams. Now those dreams have become reality.
I have before me a recent book: Lucchesità allo specchio Noi…e gli altri by Remo Santini. At its book launch in April Remo wrote inside the front cover “A Francis e Sandra il fascino di Lucca è magnetico”. It clearly is! The book attempts to describe what the essence of Lucca’s citizens is through varied examples both contemporary and historical. First to note is that Luccans do not regard themselves as Tuscans at all! Second is that they have a proverbial stinginess – but this might also be interpreted as good economic management. Thirdly, is that the city is loved by so many artists from other countries who are constantly seeking an excuse to return to it For example, James Taylor wonders why everyone doesn’t come to live here. (Just as well they don’t – in summer Via Filungo gets pretty packed as it is.
It’s a pity the book is not translated yet into English but if you buy it you also get included an atmospheric DVD on Lucca
Anyway I am thankful that I have been accepted in this wonderful Lucca which keeps me joyfully within its womb-like walls and that its beauties take less time to get to than a train journey from Charing Cross to Woolwich. I might even drop in there this afternoon – after all, a rainy day is much more tolerable in a city than in the wilds of the appennines, especially if that city is Lucca!!