A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Via Francigena: Day 27: Valpromaro To Lucca

The next day Benji and I walked the short distance (15 km) from Valpromaro to Lucca. I'm afraid I can't remember much about the landscape in-between, as we were deep in conversation and I'm hopeless at multi-tasking. But I know it was beautiful, for it was Tuscany, after all. However, I do vividly recall the fine approach to the city along the bank of the river Serchio. This brought to mind other watery pilgrim routes into cities — such as the Canal du Midi into Toulouse and the Aisne-Marne Canal into Reims. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Walled and moated Lucca is a very old settlement — dating back to Etruscan times — and I liked it a lot. We arrived at lunchtime, so had plenty of time to explore. Our accommodation was provided free of charge by a Catholic fraternity, the Misericordia di Lucca — a cosy room with bathroom and cooking facilities right in the centre of town. This we shared with Margarethe, another pilgrim from Germany. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Later we had a meal together, strolled along the outer wall of this wonderful city, then ended up listening to an open-air concert of Celtic music. On the way back to our room we crossed this charming square, the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro — the site of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.) 

The column of the Madonna dello Stellario. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

The Cathedral of San Martino — note the Carrara marble again. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Detail from the cathedral's portico. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

Medieval labyrinth embedded in the right pier of the portico. Apparently you are supposed to place your finger at the entrance and trace the correct path to the centre — with your eyes shut! (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

The Basilica of San Frediano. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

The tree-sprouting Guinigi Tower. (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

The Church of San Michele in Foro. Just magnificent! (Image from Wikimedia Commons.)


George said...

Love Lucca. I fondly remember one of the unexpected great meals of my life, featuring a pasta with, of all things, a sauce made from garbanzo beans. I think the Italians are capable of making great sauces from almost anything.

am said...

When I was 18 years old and studying art history in college, I could not see the beauty in architecture. Perhaps it was because all the photos were black and white. Funny to see the trees growing out of the top of that building because I felt oddly disoriented until I remembered seeing this in Vancouver, B.C., some years ago:


Today I could spend as much time looking at buildings and churches as I could looking at trees. My favorite in this post is the Cathedral of San Martino.

I like Lucca.

Nick said...

I remember Lucca fondly; I was there on assignment about 4 years ago, but still had a little time to mooch about. Happy Christmas, Nick.

The Solitary Walker said...

Hi, George and Nick — Ah, you've both been there. A great place, isn't it? Italy has so many wonderful towns and cities, you are spoilt. Saw the 2013 film of 'Romeo and Juliet' on TV yesterday and that was partly set in Mantua and Verona — such stunning backdrops. That bridge in Verona is amazing:


The Solitary Walker said...

That tree, Amanda!

I also like very much those modern eco-buildings which are roofed with grass and wild flowers, and even whole gardens.

dritanje said...

Oh another beautiful Italian town which I have not visited but clearly must... Wishing you all very best for 2016

The Solitary Walker said...

And all the best to you too, Morelle.

Joan Byrne said...

Hello to the Solitary Walker,

I am in the middle of preparing my walk from Aoste to Lucca and have read, and enjoyed, your posts up to Lucca. However, I have not succeeded in finding the posts after Lucca. Are there any available?


The Solitary Walker said...

Hello, Joan, and sorry about the late reply—this blog has been rather neglected recently. I only reached Lucca, as a family crisis called me home. I hope to complete the final stage sometime this year or next. I hope you have a wonderful walk. This initial mountainous stage is magnificent. However, the Po Valley can be challenging, particularly in the hot months.