Saturday, February 23, 2002

Have you ever been to Lucca? It's a small city of great charm in Tuscany. It has none of the history of nearby Florence - all those fabulous fortresslike palaces of the Medicis, the ghosts of Machiavelli and Savanarola - but then, it has none of the tourists, either. Well, at least I wasn't overwhelmed by the number of tourists in Lucca as I was the first time I went to Florence. Poor Florence seems to be populated only by tourists, as if it were just another Eurodisney; it can be awfully hard to appreciate all that art and architecture when every place is swarming with tour groups from nearly everywhere (except France, of course. I don't think the French care much for Italy.)

But, Lucca has charm. Walls encircling the city, walls covered with trees planted by Elisa Bonaparte - Napolean gave the city to his sister, who ended up being an able administrator who did well by the city, and the city by her. And a cathedral in a style similar to that of the cathedral in Siena - black and white with crazy corkscrew columns.

My parents have rented a house for a month somewhere outside Lucca. The husband just bought airplane tickets so we can go down and spend a week with them in mid-March. I can hardly wait.

The Swedish word for the day is spännande. It means exciting.

- by Francis S.

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