Friday, June 8, 2007
More about the Wall
Firstly, David and Kate fans: thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, I am very proud of my children (also the two who are not in show business), not just for their talents but also for their courage in following their chosen paths. Hmmm, you ask for embarassing moments, I will have to think about that one. I do owe Kate an embarassing moment for exposing my burst appendix to the world! That was an interesting experience: David INSISTED that I go into hospital that night and so actually I owe my life to him and to my Lucchese friend Nicola who arranged the ambulance very quickly. Kate came with me in the ambulance and stuck by me in emerg and made me laugh, which hurts a lot when you have a burst appendix!! Seriously, it was great from my point of view to have them there, but they were a bit traumatized by the experience! Worst holiday EVER, I think David said.
The purpose of this blog is to tell you a bit about the gigantic wall that surrounds Lucca. Lucca was originally an Etruscan settlement, then an important town in Roman times hosting figures such as Julius Caesar. In medieval times it became a city-state republic and with some brief exceptions, it remained independent until Napoleon invaded Italy. He gave Lucca to his sister and she and her husband ruled here in the early 19th century. After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, it became part of the Austrian Empire until the Unification of Italy in the 1860s when it became part of the province of Tuscany.
The city originally had a Roman wall and then as the city grew, a medieval wall confined its borders. In the 16th century Lucca faced a number of threats, especially from Medici Florence, and so the government gathered a number of architectual experts and an army of skilled workers and set about building a massive wall with bastions which could withstand attack from the increasing threat of gunpowder weaponry. It took 100 years to build, from the mid-sixteenth until the mid-seventeenth century. The city was never attacked after the wall was constructed, and remained intact. Today it serves as a wonderful 4.5 km tree-lined park, enjoyed by the Lucchese and tourists alike. It is a no-traffic zone where one can walk, run, cycle, rollerblade or just sit on one of the many park benches and read or chat.