France and Italy 2004

Lucca, 19-25 June


We spent six nights in Lucca, which was another walled town, quite large and for once not at the top of a steep hill. The top of the walls is now a broad pedestrian walk, and the moat area is green fields. The wall and fields give a clear boundary between the old town and its modern suburbs.

We took two trips to Florence by bus, and spent two days driving around the nearby area. Click on the map for a larger version of our travels.

  Between Lucignano and Lucca, we took a considerable detour to visit the abbey at San Galgano. It is now missing its roof, but is still used at times. The aisle had flower petals from a wedding the previous day.
  We had an apartment straight across the street from San Frediano church. Behind the double doors, a staircase went up to our first-floor rooms.
  The interior of San Frediano church. The mummified remains of St Zita (died 1278) are on display in a side chapel, except for the one day a year when she is taken out so that people can touch her. She did not look at all well.
  A Della Robbia Annunciation in San Frediano.
  Just down the street is Palazzo Pfanner, with an interesting garden with a fountain and statuary. The house contained an exhibition of gruesome medical instruments from the early 20th century. The film Portrait of a Lady was filmed here..
  Another of Lucca's many churches is the Duomo (Cathedral) di San Martino, with a multi-arched facade and many attractive details.
  The tower of San Martino.
  Then there is the Torre Guinigi, with an oak tree growing from its roof.
  At Borgo a Mozzano, north of Lucca, there is this extraordinary bridge over the Serchio river. Parts are not quite as ancient as they look, as the end on the far bank was rebuilt when a railway and new roads were built in the 20th century. It is called the Devil's Bridge.
  Further up the Serchio valley, this is the view from the church at Barga, looking across the river valley to the Alpi Apuane.
  At Collodi, east of Lucca, is the Villa Garzoni. The villa is being repaired and is not open to the public, but in any case the best feature is the steeply terraced garden dating from the late 18th century.
  Water lilies in a pool at Villa Garzoni.
  We twice took a bus from Lucca to Florence. This is a very typical Italian street, apart from the hulk of Florence Cathedral in the background.
  Another Italian streetscape.
  Roundel by Della Robbia on the facade of the foundling home in Florence. There were many of these on this building, all different.
  Della Robbia Madonna and Child in the Cathedral.
  Another Madonna and Child in the Cathedral.
  Statue on a Ponte San Trinita.
  Cellini's Perseus in the Loggia.
  Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
  San Lorenzo, Florence.
  One afternoon while we were in Florence, there was a street parade for the teams of the "calcio storica" or historic game of football, which seems to be a cross between Rugby and an all-in brawl. Very colourful ... and noisy.
  The town was basically shut as all the men were in the parade.
  The game seems to be played with two balls.

From Lucca, it was a long drive along the coastal motorway to St-Paul-de-Vence.


Copyright © 2004 by Lynn or Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.