The busy streets of Lucca in summer. Shopping is rampant.
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Last summer (2013), after our battles with the crowds and heat at Cinque Terre, we high-tailed it to Lucca, Italy, which we'd been told was a fun place to stay with easy access to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, a sight the girls wanted to see despite the Tuscan heat and previous experiences with tourist hot-spots.
What a relief Lucca turned out to be. We stayed in a perfect apartment (Airbnb) and enjoyed a couple of nice days exploring the narrow streets of this cosmopolitan town, just missing the summer festival with concerts by the likes of Leonard Kohen, Neil Young, and Earth, Wind and Fire. We stumbled onto a surprise exhibition of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, famous for capturing "the decisive moment" with his Leica rangefinder, and we ate lots of gelatto, climbed old towers for the views, hiked around the city walls, and relaxed a bit before our dash to Milan for our flight back to New York.
A tiny amount of history seems called for. Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in about 180 B.C (see Wikipedia). Julius Caesar ("Who the hell is Julius Caesar? You know I don't follow the NBA!" --Will Ferrell from the recent Anchorman sequel) spent time here. The composer Puccini was born in Lucca and played his organ here during his childhood. Because Lucca survived WWII unbombed, many features of the Medieval town are preserved, most famously the town walls, which are now pedestrian promenades. And of course, Neil Young played his mouth organ here in 2013, but we missed it, though I'm not bitter about that.
Enough of that...here are a few photos from Lucca, a town I recommend if you need to stage yourself near Pisa and if you enjoy Parmesan, vinegar from Modena, and shade.
Bei, Lauren, and Leigh passing through the town wall into Lucca.
Typical store in Lucca selling "tipico" stuff.
Statues on one of the cathedrals in town.
Ellen denying herself a gelatto.
Photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Photo of William Faulkner by Cartier-Bresson. To me, Faulkner looks a lot like my grandfather (see below).
My Dad (left), with my grandfather (Ken), and grandmother (Nelle). We have other family photos in which my grandfather Ken looks even more like Faulkner, but this is the only one I have on my hard drive.
Street scene with bicycle.
Cars aren't allowed on many of the streets, so bikes are preferred, though tricky in the summer crowds.
Cyclist with wine.
Not Neil Young (or the Killers).
A Lucca summer wedding. Onlookers point, chant, and dance as the couple emerges.
The girls, dressed to kill and heading out on the town just before ditching their embarrassing grown-up nemeses (me and Ellen).
For you climbers, an anti-stemming device.
A Euro-cat trying to get into one of those Euro-cat calendars, but feeling a little down because he wasn't born in Santorini.
Architectural history in brick.
Lucca from one of the many towers in town, none of which are leaning.
A Lucca tower.
The cafe scene at night.
Ellen exploring, just before bedtime.