Day 79 – a day in Lucca

Sssh I’m in the Basilica of St Frediano sheltering from the sun but not the tourists. Travel is, of course, a wonderful experience, to see such marvels of the world as this church. There was a time when the only tourists were my medieval pilgrim predecessors and it was for those pilgrims that such churches were built. The modern tourists must pay a few Euros admission charge towards the upkeep and maintenance of the building. This charge is less than half the cost of a side salad in any local restaurant but is far better value. However I have free admission to all the churches of Italy (and Canterbury) on production of my pilgrim credential which is stamped at the same time. But the church does not lose out because I light a candle and say a prayer for our safe passage along the Via Francigena and the ongoing provision of gelato.

Paul and I do our own thing on rest days. It would not be a rest for him to be dragged around every church and be made to eat gelato which he dislikes. So today I have seen the three big ones in Lucca: the Cathedral of St Martin where I also climbed the bell tower for a spectacular view of the town, the 8th century St Michael church and the Basilica. The Cathedral is the bishop’s church and the Basilica is the Pope’s church.

I was very lucky to bump into the old executioner’s house by the wall. It has been restored and now houses an excellent exhibition about the Via Francigena. It tells the story of the pilgrimage and explores the rich cultural history since the early days of Christianity. I recognised so much of what was shown but the explanations were enlightening and I realised how very little I know about the history and culture of this route and how much more I need to know. I wish my guidebook did more than just scratch the surface of all the things we see.

Who can resist a botanical garden when they see one? The botanical garden in Lucca has trees like the Sequoia which were planted in 1820. It is the only place inside the city walls where you can completely escape tourists because there aren’t any. For the price of a side salad in a cheap cafe you can not only experience this little piece of paradise but contribute towards the huge cost of maintaining it.

Italy is just getting better and better. Every twist and turn is a new lesson in the significance and rich history of this Via Francigena.

St Michael church

Church of St Michael

View from the bell tower, St Martin Cathedral

The Guinigi tower

The pond in The Botanical garden

Lunch with a can of Castrol GTX

Basilica of St Frediano

Insatiable demand for gelato

On top of the Guinigi Tower

view of Cathedral from Guinigi Tower

11 comments on “Day 79 – a day in Lucca

  1. What? It’s doesn’t like gelato? That’s sacrilege! 😊

  2. That was supposed to say Paul. Darn spell check!

  3. Roger Clarkson

    I wonder how many pilgrims stayed in Italy rather than walking all the way back home.

    • I imagine it was rather tempting to stay here, at least for awhile. We’re just going to miss the famous Sienna horse race

  4. Beautiful photos. Enjoy your rest day!

  5. Philippa Thomas

    How does the tree grow on top of the tower? I will have to go back to Italy to see that! And the botanical garden and churches. Italy is full of marvellous gardens and churches; could spend years exploring them. And is there any significance in having the VF exhibition in an old executioner’s house?! Thanks for continuing to share wonderful photos of your epic journey.

  6. Walkmag

    Lunch looks good

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