It is no secret that we love Lucca and we kept intending to go back. Good intentions….well we eventually got to visit Lucca twice in as many weeks.
On our first trip we stopped off to visit Vinci which is only about 45km west of Florence and on the way to Lucca. Glenda is a great Leonardo da Vinci fan. His name is literally Leonardo from Vinci, Vinci being where he was born. The main drawcards in Vinci are Leonardo’s home and a museum featuring models of his inventions and notebooks. There is also a castle and an art museum.
Vinci is a pretty hilltop town famous all over the world for having given birth to one of the greatest geniuses in the history of humanity: Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was born in 1452 and is known as a great Renaissance painter, inventor, scientist, engineer (and so on) who, with his works, left an indelible mark in all fields of knowledge and art.
We started our visit by going to see his birthplace. This home has been restored. One of the highlights was a hologram with an audio-visual presentation of Leonardo telling his story. There was also a section entitled ‘Leonardo’s Last Journey’, depicting the route taken by Leonardo in 1516 during his journey from Rome to his last residence, the castle of Clos Lucé in Amboise
The next stop was a museum in the Villa del Ferrale between his birthplace and the village. We did not have high expectations for this visit. Well, we were blown away! The exhibition hosts full scale, HD reproductions of all Leonardo’s paintings and of some of his drawings. Simply breathtaking!
Our third stop was Castello dei Conti Guidi (the castle) that hosted the original museum that opened in 1953. The castle had numerous models of Leonardo’s machines and some valuable works of art. Among the various machines reproduced inside the castle, we fascinated by the ‘self propelling wagon’, and a 1: 2 scale model of the tower crane used to complete the cusp of the dome of the Duomo of Florence. If visiting, we recommend you climb to the top of the tower to enjoy the great views of the surrounding hills! Surprisingly few people joined us climbing to the top of the tower.
Leaving the best for last, we visited the Leonardo Museum in Vinci. For anyone who wants a real glimpse into Leonardo’s mind, a visit to the Leonardo Museum is essential. It hosts a collection of models built from Leonardo’s original designs; inventions brought to life by contemporary engineers. We saw machines for the textile industry, cranes, clocks and weirdly compelling models of human anatomy from Leonardo’s famously accurate drawings. Leonardo’s eclectic talents knew no limit. There’s a cannon, a round tank, and hydraulic machines. We were fascinated by the models of futuristic flying machines that he designed after studying the flight of birds. It all seems too clever to be true, the imaginings of the fertile mind of a genius.
Leaving Vinci, we arrived in Lucca and had booked to stay at an Airbnb we had previously stayed at. Checkin was easy, and we were able to spend time walking around on the walls as well as through the city. We have not done a Parkrun since leaving Australia and seeing that Lucca has a great Parkrun…. It was nice getting to run around on the walls. We also met a number of tourists who came to Lucca for the run. We were even able to offer a shower to a couple who were planning on spending the day walking around Lucca. Later in the evening we went to a new restaurant Glenda had found (Al Corso). It was an amazing evening with very nice food and on the sommelier’s recommendation, we tried (and enjoyed) an interesting local wine.
When once is not enough…. We decided to go back to Lucca the next week for another short visit. Whist driving to Lucca the previous week, we passed through a village that we thought would be worth stopping at…..next time. So, this time round, we left Firenze early and stopped off for breakfast in Montelupo Fiorentino.
In 1203 the Florentine Republic decided to build a fortification at the confluence of Arno and Pesa rivers. This fortress was the first nucleus from which the town of Montelupo developed. What attracted us to Montelupo were the many ceramics we saw as we passed through. The production of ceramics began to flourish during the Renaissance. With its close proximity of the city of Florence, supported by merchants and noblemen, Montelupo Fiorentino became one of the main manufacturing centres in Tuscany. Montelupo was most noted for its majolica. Majolica is tin-glazed pottery decorated in colours on a white background. We enjoyed a walk around the town admiring many examples of their ceramics and pottery.
For our stay in Lucca, we decided to try a new bed and breakfast. It was on the opposite end of the city to which we were used to. Change is as good as a holiday, they say. It was nice experiencing the north side of town and we had some nice discussions with the owners of the bed and breakfast.
What struck us on our visit on this occasion was how clear the air was. We were able to distant mountains that we had not noticed before. We could not resist another Parkrun. This time round we again met some of the locals and other tourists. We did not stick around at the end; we had a nice breakfast to get back too.
Ciao Lucca, until next time….