The Retirees go Abroad – Day #4 the old city of Lucca

It was time that we spent some time looking at Lucca. So I prepared an itinerary and after breakfast lead the band down to the railway station parked the car and lead the band through a different gate into the old city. Once inside we visited Lucca’s grandest cathedral Duomo San Martino which boasts that it holds a cross according to the legend, was carved by Jesus’s contemporary Nicodemus, and miraculously conveyed to Lucca in 782, giving the world the only likeness of Jesus created by an eye witness and contemporary of Jesus as to his appearance. This cedar-wood crucifix and image of Christ called the Holy Face of Lucca (Volto Santo di Lucca) or Sacred Countenance, is in the nave in a small octagonal temple or chapel shrine.

Additionally the cathedral contains Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Madonna and Child with Saints Peter, Clement, Paul and Sebastian; Federico Zuccari’s Adoration of the Magi, Jacopo Tintoretto’s Last Supper, Fra Bartolomeo’s Madonna and Child (1509) and the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia of Siena, commissioned by her husband, the lord of Lucca, Paolo Guinigi, in 1406.

By the way you will see the ladder above. This would be to change the lightbulbs in the aisles; there is no way it would reach the ceiling in the Nave.

Outside of the Duomo is a large square, in fact Lucca is full of churches and squares. We visited Piazza Napoleone which includes the Town Hall, then Chiesa di San Michele in Foro with it unusual confessional set into the walls of the church and its false front and the Basilica di San Frediano with its large fresco on the front of the church.

This brought us to the Amphitheatre, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. The amphitheatre, built in the 1st century AD under the Emperor Claudius and concluded in the Flavian period as the centre of entertainment outside the Roman town. In the Middle Ages the Roman structure was transformed into fortification and when this use ceased terraced houses were built on the surviving ruined structures and this area became a unique elliptical-shaped plaza. It is today the centre of town life and the very symbol of Lucca. Now filled with restaurants and shops, the old arena is still used for less violent entertainments like music.

Next on the itinerary was the Torre Guinigi. The Torre Guinigi is one of the few remaining towers within the city walls. Its main characteristic is its hanging garden on the roof of the tower. The tower has been donated to the local government by the descendants of the Guinigi family former Lords of Lucca. There were over 200 hundred steps to climb to the roof top garden but the views of Lucca were spectacular.

On the way back to the walls of the city we encountered a little church dedicated to St. Egidio with unusual grotesques over the door of a lion pouncing on I presume St. Egidio. So I have included the photos and a little research.

From Wikipedia “The Community of Sant’Egidio (Italian: Comunità di Sant’Egidio) is a Christian community that is officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a “Church public lay association”. It claims 50,000 members in more than 70 countries. Its main activities are:

prayer, centred on a reading of the Bible

spreading the Gospel to help people who are looking for a sense to their life.

service to the poor, which is free and unpaid

commitment to ecumenism (the Community of Sant’Egidio is also ecumenical, though rooted in the Catholic Church)

dialogue with members of other religions and non-believers.”

There you go nothing to do with the lion.

It had been another hot day so we sought the shady portions of the city walls and the free fountains that are found regularly in Italian cities. Under the shade of the trees we recovered our composure but Mother Nature was brewing a storm to relieve us of the heat so we head for home a cooling shower and hot meal.

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Retired Australian Lawyer having worked representing the innocent and the not so innocent in Australia and some of the remote parts of the world and having travelled widely through Europe, Western Russia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand Malaysia Solomon Islands northern China, Hong Kong and the UAE So now that I have the time I am writing about my travels present and past. Hope you enjoy exploring off the beaten track.