Saturday, December 10, 2016

12/9 -- Explore Lucca and Pisa

We started off wandering around  Lucca. The walls we are inside were built in the 1500s and currently hold 10,000 people, with another 70,000 outside the walls. However, there were at least 2 other sets of walls -- the ones I photographed last night are the remnants of the 1300s walls, and there was yet another smaller set from sometime earlier. Lucca was established as a Roman outpost in 62 BC, and one of the piazzas is outlined with marble pillars marking the boundaries of the first Roman market here.
The canal outside our hotel. This was an
important water source in the days when
a siege was possible.
Inside the walls, in addition to a cathedral, there are another 101 churches. -- seems like a lot for a mere 10,000 inhabitants, but it turns out that Lucca was part of another ancient pilgrimage from Canterbury, England to Rome (about 1200  miles) besides the one we traveled in Spain (Camino de Santiago). All the Lucca churches served to support the wide variety of pilgrims on the route. The cathedral became a focal point because it proclaimed it was where you could behold the true face of Jesus.  It has a number of wonderful religious oils and an early 1400s  marble sarcophagus cover of the deceased 17 year old wife of a  rich man (she died in childbirth). The husband was distraught and commissioned the marble sculpture which was ahead of its time in expressing emotion and realism.
One of the 101 churches -- marble with a top layer of brick.

The cathderal with the relic described as the
'True face of Jesus'.

The shrine with the 'True Face of Jesus' -- the
grill is so intricate, it is impossible to get a
good photo of his face (I tried). Note that
he is dark-skinned. He also has a divided
beard and his feet are separate instead of the
usual positioning.

The dead 17 year old wife in marble. The sad dog is at her
feet on the left.

An original stained glass window, dating to the
1200s. It was last cleaned in the 1970s I think.

This is how pilgrims knew which was the right church. The
knight is not preparing to slice the pilgrim, he is dividing his
cloak in two with his sword to share it with cold pilgrim.

The family tower of the man whose wife is
represented in marble in the cathedral.
From there, we walked to the remains of a Roman amphitheater. All that's left is the amphitheater shape and exposed  marble here and there. Now, it is a popular piazza with a number of restaurants and shops.Then we walked back toward the main road through the old city to the Piazza St Michele, which was also where Lucca got started. This ended our tour and we did some exploring before heading back to the hotel for a quick break.
The white chunk on the left is part of the original amphitheater
that was not cut out for reuse. The walls to the right show the
stucco in the middle, over brickwork on the right.

Interior of the amphitheater which is now shops and cafes.

Puccini square and monument. He was born
here but after he left to work on his music
education, he settled at a nearby lake and
never came back. Apparently he was not
liked in Lucca because he and another man's
wife ran off together and had kids.

At 1:20, we met Lodo (our  OAT tour  leader) for the walk to the bus that would take us to Pisa. While is it less than half an hour away by car, the bus was slowed by numerous stops and a LONG wait for two passenger trains to pass. The bus stop is  near the leaning tower, and we could see it above the city walls. The city has found a way to stabilize it, but it still leans a LOT. We could have gone up, but the tickets were expensive and the lines are long and you can see the situation much more clearly from the grounds, which has a bapistry, cemetary, and cathedral as well. We opted not to pay to see another cathedral et al and walked around a lot instead. Lodo recommended going into the town to the site of the university, which is housed in an interesting building.
From front to back, the Baptistry, Cathedral, and Tower.

The slant is pretty pronounced!

Front of the cathedral. Our guides call the
design the wedding cake look.

The Virgin at the top had a visitor.

Walking down the city streets of Pisa

The elaborately designed University building.
A different quality of light as the sun
starts to set on the tower.

Back at the hotel, we prepped for a group dinner and finally got back before 10pm.We walked in excess of 17,000 steps for the day, over 7 miles, and are ready to crash for the night.

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