I Love a Parade

We were fortunate enough to be in Lucca during a festival.  Several nights worth of parades with costumes, music, flags, scary weaponry…who could ask for anything more?

One question:  What do you think would be more difficult–tossing and catching flags, or marching with a flag covering your face?  These guys were masters at both.

True confession time:  i just learned that WordPress will arrange photos into a collage, so I had to give it a try.  Pretty cool, huh?  And very easy–at least from my home computer.

Lucca Churches

I’m still thinking about Lucca’s amazing city wall.  With a perimeter of approximately 2.5 miles, the interior space isn’t very big.  I’ll leave it to the mathematicians to calculate the square footage within those walls.   At times, though, it felt huge, particularly during the afternoon heat, when lost and walking in circles, for example. Not that I would have ever experienced anything like that..

So, what’s the point? Well, there is an incredible number of churches packed into that rather small patch of earth! The other walled cities I visited seemed to only have one or two churches within their enclosure, but Lucca had a whole overflowing collection basket load of them!

Fortunately, I didn’t feel compelled to photograph them all–just a few that caught my eye because to me, at least, they were rather unique.

I had never heard of San Frediano, and I still have no clue who he is, but he clearly was important enough to get a church named in his honor.  The exterior wasn’t all that fancy, except for the beautiful mosaic balancing on that rather nondescript body.

It was particularly beautiful when the sun was directly shining on the gold,  which it wasn’t when I took this photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

This next church has been re-purposed as an art museum.  We never got around to going inside to see the Chagall exhibit, but I sure did like those green stripes decorating the arches, and posters fit so nicely under an arch, don’t you think?

This last one, built on the site of the old Roman Forum was my very favorite–the church of St. Michael, named after my husband, I believe.

You’ve got to love a church that looks like a wedding cake is balancing on its top.   Instead of a bride and groom, however, this one has angels, spreading their wings and blowing their horns. 

That brown fist on the right was not a church decoration. It was part of a citywide art exhibit.  If it hadn’t taken me three months to write this blog, I probably would remember the name of the art festival, how MANY sculptures there were–but all I can recall is that they were all totally made from paper.  AND that tourists and the locals were invited to vote for their favorite.  (There is another sculpture in the photo of the church of San Frediano.  It looks like a bunch of space vehicles suspended from strings).

Anyway, back to the church.  St. Michael is definitely deserving of a closer look.  The sculptor must have had that century’s equivalent of ADD, because each of the wedding cake’s columns is decorated differently.  (I know–my future as an art expert has just been vaporized by my clumsy description of these edifices.)

The fake front of St Michael church, with all the cool, different columns

Check out the detail on the Archangel’s robe.  (Click on the photo to enlarge for a better view).

Close up of the Archangel. I’m loving my camera’s zoom lens

That was definitely a labor of love, because you’d have to have super vision to see those “jewels” from the ground level.  A tour guide told us that Michael is wearing a gold ring.  We couldn’t tell one way or the other until my camera’s zoom lens disproved THAT claim.

I was thinking that Lucca’s churches were old Italy’s version of Starbucks …there was one on every corner.  Then I happened to take a look at one of the arches.

Detail below the arch

Look closer…recognize anything?

Do they serve Starbuck’s here?

Looks like the command to “go forth and multiply” was also heeded by a certain Seattle company!

The City Walls of Lucca, Italy

It’s a rainy day in New Jersey–the perfect time to indulge in Part Three of this summer’s trip to Italy.  To me, travel is composed of three equally enjoyable segments.  Part One is the planning stage.   Part Two is the actual travel, and Part Three occurs when your mind leaves your body as you relive those travel highs.

Our villa was a few miles from Lucca, a short (but harrowing) drive to the city gates.  It was close enough so that we could see Lucca’s towers from the patio outside my room.  The photo at the top of this post (if the”featured image” application works, that is) was taken from that very patio.  But just in case it doesn’t, here’s the photo again. 

There are city walls, and then there are CITY WALLS.  Lucca’s are the latter.  We are talking big, serious structures.

One day, we rented a “bicycle built for four” and tooled around the entire periphery.

traveling in style

And yes, those ARE trees growing on top of the wall.

Back seat driver’s view

That photo doesn’t give you an idea of how big the walls are, or how high up that bike path is–so here are a couple more shots to put it into perspective.

One of Lucca’s gates
Restaurant and bar on Lucca’s wall

In fact, the wall is big enough for a restaurant and bar (the site of my birthday prosecco  celebration), and a sculpture garden.

The July birthday girls, after several glasses of that bubbly stuff

Lucca also has an old Roman amphitheater within its walls.

No, I didn’t hang from a helicopter to take that aerial view.  That is a photo of a poster in the Lucca Tourist office.

Inside the amphitheater

The Italians, being masters of recycling, built houses out of amphitheater walls.  Originally,  poorer people lived in those structures, but now it is a very trendy locale, with great little cafes and shops.

That’s all for today–but that’s not all there is to Lucca!