Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cycling Around Lucca

The city of Lucca was an overnight stop during our May trip to Italy.  With its high Renaissance walls surrounding the ancient Roman city-center, Lucca would be a perfect decompression from the hustle-bustle of Rome and Florence to the tranquility of the Cinque Terre.  Lucca was also home to Puccini and ex-cycling fast-man, Mario Cipollini.

Stepping off the train platform, the height and massiveness of the old city walls were an impressive sight even from a distance.  
Upon closer inspection, Lucca's walls are strikingly massive!  Lucca is one of the few remaining towns with Renaissance era walls still intact. 




The wall circumvents the old city in roughly a two and a half mile loop.  A paved pathway exists on top of the ramparts and is the perfect place for a stroll or bicycling.  Lucca's ramparts have been transformed into a pleasing parkway lined with trees and grass.  Wanting to see as much of old Lucca as possible in the early afternoon, we rented two bikes and headed out onto the ramparts. 
Passeo on ramparts
Passeo on ramparts
Making a loop around the city, we got our bearings from our rampart vantage point.  Spotting the Duomo di San Martino, we headed down off the wall and into the heart of the old city, proper.  Beautiful Italian scenery at its best.
San Martino and gardens
San Martino
After a stop at the Duomo, we forged on in search of the Piazza San Michele and its namesake church.  San Michele was built over the ancient Roman forum and today is called San Michele ad Foro. 
San Michele
San Michele
With all of the peddling, getting lost, regaining our bearings, and dodging traffic, we found a place to stop for refreshment deep within the city center.
Somewhere, deep in Lucca
Grabbing a quick slice of pizza and still feeling hungry, we decided to try the local specialty snack; cecina.  Cecina (cheh-CHEE-nah) is a thin baked pizza or crepe made from garbanzo bean flour, olive oil, and salt.  Simple.  Although hesitant at first, we discovered that the cecina had a crusty,creamy deliciousness and would become a staple snack throughout the remainder of our trip!  Can easily made at home too.  We prefer adding add cheese to our homemade version.  
Cecina
With energy restored, we set off again in search of the Roman amphitheatre.  The amphitheatre looks similar to the surrounding buildings but the curvature reveals the original outline of the structure. 
Roman Amphitheatre
Entering through one of the gates, 
Passage to Roman Amphitheatre
the amphitheatre opens up to an assortment of restaurants and tourist shops.
Roman Amphitheatre
Before heading back up onto the ramparts for more cycling and then back to the hotel, one last stop at the Giuseppi Garibaldi monument.
 Beautiful city and one to which I plan to return!

12 comments:

  1. It sure does look beautiful! It must have been great fun cycling all over the parks.

    Christopher

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    1. Christopher, the walled town is beautiful and the city is surrounded my mountains. With a bike, you can get about quickly with little fuss. Quite a good spot for a lengthy vacation, I think.

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  2. Fantastic - what an experience cycling in such country. I've always fancied visiting Lucca, but never made it yet - I don't think it will be on a bike now!

    Cipollini was a terrific larger-than-life character - world cycling is a bit short of them at the moment, I think. Come to think of it, doesn't his name mean "little onions"? Italian names are brilliant - I have always had a soft spot for the ancient Grand Prix racing driver, Luigi Fagioli, whose name, of course, means "Louis Beans". And then there was Joe Green, the celebrated composer of operas - classy.

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    1. If you get the opportunity, I would add Lucca to a Tuscan itinerary, for sure.

      Cipollini is, indeed, "small onion." "Joe Green"! You are in fine form today, my friend!

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  3. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos, Jonathan. We considered a side trip to Lucca while we were in Florence this summer, but sadly left ourselves too short of time. Looking at those photos now, my mind goes back to sunny days in Italy and the thought of a gelato or better yet a Bira Moretti after a day of cycling - takes me away from our cold wet fall day!
    Cheers,
    Michael

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    1. Happy to share, Michael! I remembered your summer trip to Tuscany but did not recall if you visited Lucca. Warm Italian sun and gelato; a perfect combination!

      We must share the same weather today!

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  4. Seems like you had a wonderful visit to Tuscany, the Italian heart of cycling. With hints of renaissance city rivalry and italian unification this region certainly leaves any historical enthusiast or wargamer well-fed with inspiration - and cecinas. Good choice on Lucca! Seems to offer a more distinguished flavor compared to the more touristic "Miracle Square" in Pisa.

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    1. Indeed, it was a great trip and we look forward to returning.

      We only did a day trip to Pisa on the way from Lucca to Vernazza. The cathedral and tower were quite impressive but you are right, the place was overrun by daytripping tourists. Pisa might have been a good stop in the evening after all of the tour buses had left for the day.

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  5. What a wonderful Italian gem of a city! I really do look forward to being able to travel overseas eventually. The walls of Lucca are amazing, as is the way they have made good use of them for modern recreation.

    Italian names were extremely common in the neighborhood where I grew up; Connecticut has the 2nd highest percent of residents of Italian ancestry in the US (almost 20%, and in Cos Cob it was closer to 40%. Puccini is certainly a notable native son of Lucca!

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    1. Lucca is a gem. One that may be overlooked on the route between the two heavyweights of Florence and Pisa. Certainly worthy of a stop!

      I hope you get to experience some of these cities firsthand.

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  6. Lovely photos of what was clearly a marvellous visit. You really 'scored' with the weather didn't you?

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    1. Yes! The weather in Florence, Lucca, and points north was generally very good. We started out a bit damp in Rome, though.

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