Italy

Published on November 12th, 2017 | by Ann Rickard

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Rollings Stones in Lucca

Within minutes of tickets going on sale, they were gone. That’s the way it is when the Rolling Stones come to town, and they were heading to the historic Tuscan town of Lucca just as we were.

We had no hope of securing tickets but we were there in the lead-up and witnessed the preparation for the concert, a heck of a big deal.

The Stones were to play beneath the 500-year-old Renaissance walls that so symbolise Lucca. Every hotel had been overbooked, every B&B was sold out, everyone who had a room to let had already let it.

“Mick is coming to town,” the locals said as they greeted each other over coffee in the morning. “Do you realise, he is 73?” The excitement was feverish and infectious.

We were staying with friends in a 500 hundred-year old apartment wedged between other 500 hundred-year old apartments inside the walls, just a few metres’ walk from Lucca’s lively main street, Via Fillungo.

Every morning we walked Via Fillungo, dodging the tour groups, trying not to be drawn into the beautiful shops with their jewels and shoes and designer clothes.

Every afternoon we went outside the handsome walls to an out-of-town restaurant or to visit friends of our friends.

We drove the busy road circling the walls, desperately trying not to hit one of the hundreds of helmet-free cyclists (and succeeding, thank God), weaving through the hectic traffic, looking up to the quiet and regal beauty of walls, watching the preparation for the Rolling Stones’ concert.

The green grass beneath one section of the wall – the bastions of San Paolino and Santa Maria – was being carefully removed to be temporarily replaced, we guessed, by something hardy to withstand the feet of the 55,000-people expected for the concert. There were many workmen, a lot of flurry.

Lucca’s walls – built in the 16th and 17th centuries are in impeccable condition, pleasingly wide with a tree-lined surface. The locals, the Lucchese as they are called, walk or cycle the top of the walls from morning to dusk. At night many find a quiet spot to lie on top of the walls, to look up to the starry sky and, no doubt, to reflect on their good fortune to live in such an ancient and elegant town.

The walls, as well as Lucca’s wide Piazza Napoleone, make magical backdrops for concerts. Many big names have performed: Elton John, David Bowie and, this year, Robbie Williams and the Pet Shop Boys. The Lucca Summer Festival presents more events than the Lucchese and the thousands of visitors who flock each summer, could possibly attend.

Then there is the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, half an hour’s drive away, to celebrate the life and work of the genius composer, born in Lucca, and who wrote some of the great operas of the world.

Now as I write, Lucca is in the throes of holding the Lucca Comics & Games Festival, an event dedicated to comics, video games, music, games and entertainment.

Our friends in 500-year-old Lucca apartment have watched as cranes and trucks have squeezed into the small square outside their bedroom window to erect large marquees. They email to tell us every piazza, narrow street and tiny alleyway has been taken over with marquees to hold the one million-people expected to swell the town during the five-day event.

Lucca is a small Tuscan town with big attractions. And that is without even talking about its myriad charms and glorious ancient history.

I’ll tell you more next week. Read more of Ann at www.annrickard.com

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.



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