We arrived at our rental apartment at 8:30 pm on a beautiful evening. This was 30 minutes early for our rendevous with the owner who would give us the key and help us take in our luggage. So, with her usual zest, Faye ran down to a local bar and purchased a bottle of good wine for our enjoyment on the stone steps of "our" apartment. An excellent start. Our apartment was really spacious and beautiful.
Our apartment backed on Via del Fosso, an unusual street with a stream running down the center. Very photogenic. Our apartment is on the third floor in the middle right. Our view from the bedrooms and bathroom were across Via del Fosso to the grounds of the Villa Bottini.
Via del Fosso runs north/south across Lucca. It has many interesting aspects with views, and many large fish that thrive in the stream.
The stream goes under several key road intersections. This one is where Via della Fratta crosses. In the center of the road is the beautiful Madonna della Stellario. Beyond is the piazza San Francisco.
Another intersection across Fosso is here where Via Elisa passes through the ancient Roman gate into the center of Lucca. Our apartment is about a hundred meters to the right of the gate.
The inside of the Roman gate has some beautiful murals painted above the arch. Via Elisa becomes Via San Croce inside the gate. It is one of the main east-west streets across Lucca. Let's follow it a ways...
About a hundred meters west of the Roman Gate, Via San Croce (center left) opens onto this Piazza San Maria Forisportam. Good restaurant there on the left.
Continuing west, Via del Croce eventually enters (center right) the large Piazza San Michele. Lots of activity here any time of day or night.
Like this medieval archery contest.
And the winner prize ready to be awarded is being held by the beautiful Beatrece, the granddaughter of our close friends Anna and Feliche.
Meanwhile, if you have seen enough medieval activity, Lucca is hosting a serious, week-long wine festival highlighting local high quality wines.
The festival even has its own music.
We found an exquisite 2009 reserve merlot selling for 20 Euros. We eventually drank four of these.
Other happenings include several new commercial discoveries. This one is a novel, wild looking gelato shop. Complete with swings hanging from the ceiling.
Another is this really cool hair salon. Black on white. I think that girl on the right wants my phone number...?
And, a large shoe store. High quality and all on sale. I ended up with three pairs.
A quick peek into the Anfiteatro shows that its as great as ever.
Endless food and drink opportunities, along with lots of people-watching fun.
Remember I mentioned the view from our apartment back windows? This is the view - the Villa Bottini. Lets take a closer look.
This is the view from the gate opening into the back grounds of the villa. This week there is a faire of sorts with lots of retail booths, food venues and music.
The villa from the rear.
Inside are rooms housing retail clothing outlets. Check out the ceilings.
Another ceiling. This is a good opportunity to highlight some other classically painted ceilings over retail. The photo below is sort of a quiz for those of you who have been to Lucca. Can you identify where it is located?
This is a big hint. The store I am highlighting is two doors to the right of this well known coffee shop on Via San Croce. The reason I don't show the entrance to our mystery store is because the entrance is a careworn storefront showing no hint of the treasures hidden to the right side of the store where there is a large opening into the historic palace located next door, where the retail goods are sold. The name of the store is Pesi & Vinci.
This is the first of many retail rooms. The retail merchandise is high-end women and men's clothing and accutrements. Look up...
...at the ceilings.
Really hard to focus on shopping in this museum of art.
We had several fun visits by Anna and Feliche and some of their extended family. Here with Anna and Maria.
And a group photo. Lovely Michela on the right is Anna and Feliche's grandaughter.
Michela laughs over some wonderful branzino. A fun and delicious meal
Its always simply great to walk along/around the wall.
The top of Balardo San Paolino.
Look in from the top of the Porta San Maria, the main entrance to Lucca on the northwest side. Bike rental shops here, as well as restaurants.
And a look from the south side. The walkway to the left is the direct connection to the railroad station. If you walk out this walkway you will come across the little plaza with fountain, and then the station. While the shortest route into Lucca, this walkway involves some stairs inside the wall which can be difficult for persons hauling luggage.
And here is the station. Direct and connecting links to all of Italy and Europe.
Many persons arriving by train choose to walk to this nearby main gate - the Porta San Pietro, which is easier for anyone pulling a suitcase.