We are going on a road trip again and this time it is to Lucca.  We are getting  very familiar and comfortable with the trains.  It is an easy trip (about 1.5 hours) and we can walk from the train station to our hotel to drop off our back packs.  Lucca began as a Roman settlement – in fact the grid layout of the streets survives from Roman times.  It is said that the first bishop of Lucca was a disciple of St. Peter.  Lucca was basically an independent city-state until Napoleon came to town.  In it’s heyday, Lucca had 160 towers and 70 churches.  It is Italy’s most impressive fortress city, encircled by a perfectly intact wall.  Lucca’s wall effectively keeps out both traffic and the stress of the modern world.  The first thing we do once we check into the hotel is borrow bikes from the hotel and ride the city wall which stretches for 2.5 miles.  This city has had protective walls for 2000 years, but the new design(built in 1550) has a medieval look and is about 100 feet wide for protection against cannonball pummeling.  The perfect place for running, biking, and walking.  We did not want to take the bikes into the downtown area so we turned them in and then walked much of the town.  The weather has been really nice for us and walking has been perfect for sight-seeing.  Our hotel is in a great spot just on the edge of the city gates and we walked straight from there down the main drag which takes us to Piazza San Michele.  And, yes, we stopped in at the church in this piazza.  This church, dedicated to St. Michael, grew up in the center of the Roman city’s ancient forum in the 8th century.  One of the paintings in the church is by Filippino Lippi – “Sainte Helen, Roch, Sebastian, and Jerome”.  We walk throughout the rest of the afternoon to get familiar with this city until dinnertime.  we have tomorrow also to see the rest of the city’s sites.  Besides being known for it’s intact walls it is also known for being the birth place of Giacomo Puccini.  We will be going to a Puccini concert tomorrow evening.

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