Viva 70 brings you a series of conversations with people doing interesting things in their later years (50- 85 plus). This week I caught up with Linda Linhart who’s just returned from spending a month in Italy.
Linda tell us a little about yourself and why this trip to Lucca?
I have lived in Central Victoria here in Australia, for about 22 years. I work part time, 2 days a week and my focus is now on travel, both within Australia and overseas. Visiting Italy has been a dream of mine for probably 30 years. It was time to make this happen.
Where is Lucca?
Lucca is a city on the Serchio River of about 90.000 people located at the top end of Tuscany. It’s a renaissance walled city with cobblestone streets….about an hour and a half by train from Florence and 30 minutes from the coast. Lucca was the first place we visited in Italy and it was a wonderful introduction to what Italy has to offer. It’s easy to travel there by train. Lucca is such a beautiful place.
So what were the highlights of the visit to Lucca?
Well, there is so much to tell and I’ll be writing a few articles for VIVA 70 to share some of these stories and experiences. But I’ll never forget arriving exhausted in Lucca after 30 hours of travel from Australia. We climbed the stairs to our Airbnb located on the second floor and all I could think about was sleep! The suitcases hit the floor and I made my way to open the shutters. The view before me was of terracotta rooftops and church steeples. A quintessential Tuscan view that I had only seen in films, but this was real. Lucca was stunningly beautiful. All tiredness forgotten, all we wanted to do was get out there and explore. I had seen this view in my mind for over 30 years and now I was really here.
Lucca is a wonderful city, very friendly and open and with so much to see. One of the must do’s in Lucca is to walk the city wall. When I heard of a renaissance wall surrounding the city I thought only of a fortress of stone, a narrow turret. It’s the complete opposite. The wall is made up of tree lined boulevards. It’s about 4.2 kilometres long with parts of it built in 1545 and completed in 1650. It’s the social hub of the town where people meet in the mornings and evenings to walk and meet friends. Locals came out with their dogs, with their prams and bicycles and it was a great place for people watching. In the evenings that’s just where we wanted to be. It became an evening ritual that we walk the wall with perhaps a glass of wine as a rest stop along the way.
I believe Puccini was born in Lucca?
Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858 and they honour his work and connection to the city by holding regular concerts about 4 or 5 times a week in the old churches. To hear music like Tosca, Madam Butterfly and La Boheme in these ancient settings is quite amazing. I had to stop and take a breath to take in that here I was in Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini in this astounding church listening to his music. It can’t get better than that.
If I was heading to Lucca tomorrow, what are the must do’s in Lucca?
Well, walking the wall and a Puccini concert definitely but there is so much to do. September is particularly a good month for medieval festivals in Lucca with vibrant colours, lots of flag tossing and jousting. If you’re a villa and garden lover the Villa Mansi, 25 north east of town is stunning with landscaped gardens and marble statues. It was owned by the wealthy Benedetti family in the sixteenth century.
There are also many churches and city squares such as the Lucca Cathedral and Piazza dell Anfiteatro which is an elliptical shaped plaza, lined with cafes and restaurants. And of course there’s the amazingly good food and wine culture of Lucca which must be sampled.
Thank you so much Linda. Lucca is definitely on my list.
Want to know more…..