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Laid Back Lucca

semi-overcast 17 °C

While most people can name Venice, Florence, Naples, Rome and a handful of other Italian cities, few can pinpoint Lucca on the map. Yet here we are, just a day's donkey ride away from Florence in one of the most intact medieval cities in Europe.
Our journey in search of the Silk Road took us through Istanbul to the very centre of this ancient trade route in Uzbekistan, but now we are back in Europe in a city in Tuscany that became enormously prosperous during the 8th-10th centuries because of the Silk Road. Lucca became rich because its merchants and artisans bought raw silk in China and transported it via the Silk Road to Constantinople. From there it was shipped to nearby Genova, (called Genoa in English) and processed in Lucca.

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Lucca was already an ancient city in medieval times. It was an Etruscan city three hundred years BC and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. And, at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus reaffirmed their political alliance known as the First Triumvirate at the Forum that stood on the spot where this church was built in the 11th century...

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Pause for a moment to reflect that Julius Caesar walked these streets and piazzas more than two thousand years ago and the Church of Michael the Archangel, (San Michelle). has now stood here for a thousand years. Consider as well that priests have been climbing these stone steps to deliver sermons here for the past six hundred years...

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Lucca truly flourished as the centre of silk weaving in the 14th and 15th centuries when this lectern was installed. More than three thousand looms were in operation in the city and its cloth was exported throughout Europe. The number of lavish churches was a testament to the richness of the city and its inhabitants in the Middle Ages and Lucca is known as the city of 100 churches. Some, like the Cathedral, have beautiful exteriors and soaring bell towers...

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While others, like the 12th century Santa Maria Corteorlandini just outside our apartment's front door, have plain exteriors but amazing interior decorations...
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Although we have been to Lucca many times we are spending a week here because we love its beautiful medieval architecture, its superb cuisine and its laid back atmosphere. Its labyrinthine traffic free streets are a picture...

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And its numerous delicatessens a gourmet's dream...
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When James first visited Lucca some 40 years ago he had difficulty finding the Tourist Information office because, as he was told by the attendant, Lucca did not want too many tourists. Today, despite the office being clearly marked on the map, we could not find it. Thankfully, some things don't change. Lucca may be quite near Florence but in some respects it's many leagues away.

Posted by Hawkson 08:52 Archived in Italy

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Comments

Sheila you must be in Limoncello heaven and its many variations. What a lovely place to end your Silk Road journey. Thank you for taking us on that journey.

by Sue Fitzwilson

After the crush of Florence it looks as though you've found a peaceful Italian oasis. Either very early morning photos or the lack of people, cars, motorcycles, (only one bicycle) in any of them makes it appear that you are two of the very few individuals up and about. A week there sounds like a very good idea.

by R and B

Ahh, Lucca... I hope you are taking in the Puccini museum, many, many years ago I spent a whole day there, thank you for this post, brought back memories of a special time.
Continua..fortissimo. :) G

by Gottfried

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