(Earlier in the day, we were at Piazza Anfitheatro)
May 30th, 2009
Through the morning, this tower had been playing hide and seek with me. My peripheral vision kept catching the tower peeking down from roof level, like a naughty child hiding in the loft.
Towers are part of Italy’s repertoire. We had barely been able to contain the urge to climb every other. The toss up in Lucca was between Torre Guinigi ( pronounced Joo-nee-jee) and Torre dell’Ore.
Climb the beautiful one or climb the other and shoot the beautiful one?
Rhea made that call easy by plummeting me on my back as I tried to sneak past. (She has been watching the tree topped tower for hours as well. Plus, her young legs had been sitting in the little pillion far too long. Almost 15 contiguous minutes).
So we pulled over, leaned our bikes against ancient walls, secured them with a chain, bought three-euro-and-change tickets and took the stairs.
The walls of the stairwell were covered with murals that told a sordid tale of bloodshed, war and mayhem of a bygone era. Sadly, no plaques, no translations.
Try as I could, I could not get any material on them.
The murals seemed pre-renaissance (or were painted in that style) given the absence of perspective and foreshortening. Paolo Guinigi, the sole Lord of Lucca in 1400, owner of Palazzo Guinigi wanted a tower as tall as it could get. Yet, the local regulations prevented one because of the rising water table under Lucca. He solved the problem by planting oak trees that gave the tower an additional 30 feet.
The view is absolutely stunning. Lucca. the living 100 year old museum looks even more sedate. Un-touristy. Like most tower climbs in Italy, this one was worth every step.
(Read on: We are going bike on the Lucca ramparts)