White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Final Thoughts, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

My trip to Lucca, a very special place, has come to an end. This was my third visit in four years. (If you want to view the 100+ blog posts, they are at this link). In the image above, a single quiet bicyclist on Via San Croce casts a long shadow in the moments before sundown.

Although I traveled to Venice for a short visit, I otherwise stayed mostly within the walled city of Lucca the entire time using my feet for transportation. This current stay spanned a period through late winter and early spring - temps were mostly in the 40-60 degree F range at this time of year - great weather to be out and about.

Am I a traveler, or tourist, or some mixture of both? A traveler lingers, and listens, and watches and doesn't race from place to place breathless at the end of the day.  A tourist, on the other hand, tends to chase one destination after another, checking off a list of places to go.

One day, I sat in the warm sunshine in Piazza dell'Anfiteatro and watched a little kid learning to walk - he had that half drunk looking wobble, arms outstretched for balance, weaving and tottering along, always about to fall down face-first. He had reached that point in development where he was totally unwilling to grasp mom's hand for help. He was determined to do it on his own. She didn't hover but stayed a short distance behind - not so short as to prevent a fall but close enough to pick him up and dust him off afterwards. Like all of Lucca, it is life unfolding at the natural pace of people on foot.

It is sometimes enough to sit with eyes closed on a bench in a sunny piazza and feel the warmth of the sun and listen to the sounds of speech and life of the different languages and culture on all sides of me. I can enjoy and watch the pace of the world ebb and flow as the sun slowly arcs across the sky. Life driven by the ages old foot-based rhythm and speed. This is Lucca.

I will say though, that after 45 days being here that the language isolation does become tiresome to me. Speaking Italian fluently would be really valuable. I also spent all 45 days with neither a TV nor a cell phone - by choice - like the "good old days."

As a walking man, I walk. In some respects it is like stepping back in time - no phone, no contact, no device, sometimes even no camera, just walking and looking.  Humans have done so for millennia, alone and self-reliant.

This new obsession with being "connected" sometimes can erode self-reliance, a trait that has enabled our survival through the ages. Walking and looking is an active task. After weeks of wandering this city, more and more faces are becoming familiar, more smiles, nods, and looks of recognition, slowly becoming part of a place. A daily life without cars seems a better life suited to the human condition.

Spending 45 days visiting the same place - I like the settling into one place rather than continually discovering more new places. I don't need to try every town or country or restaurant. I prefer to pick one at a time and grow to know it over time rather than flitting from one to another to another. It's just personal style. I'm not a see-Europe-in-ten-days kind of person. A month or so in one place seems a goodly amount of time to suit me. Time to learn some of its ways, and moods, and people, and sights - to reach a state of feeling comfortable and at home in getting around - to walk to everything - my favorite brusketta place, favorite pizza place, favorite vegetable place, favorite chiocoloto fondante gelato place, where to get griglata verdure or pasta pomodoro or risotto carciofi and a dozen other things. It is comforting to reach a point where I can walk with a strong confident pace on the narrow streets because I know where I am and where I am going and how to get there without a map through the maze of warren-like streets.

Lucca is also a province and has its own villages and back roads and suburbs and countryside but its essence and greatest wonder to me in inside the confines of these walls - this 4km/2.5mi circumference world of its own. A world mostly lived on foot. Perhaps this is the essence of all small cities and I am just slow to recognize?

As the bicyclist fades off into the sunset, so to, do I say my final goodbye to Lucca, a very special place in the world. Thanks to you many readers for following along with me on the journey.


  1. Thanks Joe

    Your comments about unplugging from the mainstream...stepping back are my exact sentiments.

    Thank you for another wonderful trip, in my case a wonderful mind trip.

    S Of The Southern C.

    1. Thank you for following along!