But when eventually travel to
, one of my first stops will be Italy , in Lucca . Tuscany
The first thing you see when arriving in
The town of
dates back to Roman times, and Roman
architecture is still visible in the town centre today. During medieval times, Lucca was a centre for trade, especially the silk
trade. In the 14th century Lucca was full of political turmoil and unrest, so
many towns were fortified for defense. Power changed hands many times, but Italy eventually fell under the control of the
wealthy Guinigi family. Lucca
One of the first things the Guinigi’s did was build a huge tower to show off their wealth. This was a very common pass-time for rich families in that era, they apparently had nothing better to do with their money, and many Tuscan cities actually had to pass laws restricting the height of towers because people were just going crazy. When the families fought each other, knocking down the enemy’s tower was the ultimate burn.
Fortunately, Torre Guinigi survived, and today it is a breathtaking tourist attraction. The tower is entirely medieval architecture, except for the stairs, which are a modern addition (the original stairs were on the outside). You can still see the Guinigi family crest carved into the stone. Today, for 4 euros, you can climb the 230 stairs and from the top floor you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding town, including the Roman centre, the original city walls, and a few other towers around the city that are still intact. You can also see the countryside around the town and the
Alps in the
The cool thing about the tower is that it’s high, but not high enough that you are completely distanced from the city. You can still hear the people in the streets and the musicians that play nearby.
The most incredible feature of the tower is its rooftop garden, which dates back to at least the 1600’s. The garden is 125 feet above the ground, and includes several ancient oak trees.
What to Do? There’s lots to see around the town, enough to keep you busy for an afternoon of exploring. Across town from the Torre Guinigi is the Torre della Ore (the clock tower) which is also open to climb. You can visit several medieval basilicas and the Lucca Amphitheatre, whose architecture dates back to the
Roman Empire. The Lucca Catherdral dates to the 1300’s and
has many beautiful paintings as well as a famous sculpture of St. Martin. I would really just enjoy wandering the
streets and exploring. I think that’s the best way to discover a city, and ’s architecture and culture would be absolutely
What to eat? The