In September 2018 Jim and I spent two lovely weeks in Lucca. This trip, I was in Lucca for almost a month; Jim for about 2 weeks. We spent less time visiting the “sites” and more time just “living” in Lucca. Like cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. Commuting to “work” (our school). And attending a local church. I tried to capture pictures to convey some of the aspects of Lucca that have drawn us here. This blog post will give you a better sense of the city, our progress on learning the language, and an update on our plan to move to Italy.
Lucca – the city
Lucca has several worthwhile “attractions” but the top one is the city itself. It is completely encircled by a massive wall that was built during the Renaissance, but evidence of earlier walls and gates are scattered throughout the city. Within Le Mura (those Renaissance outer walls), the streets and alleys twist and turn and are ideal for wandering. You can’t really get lost – you’ll run into Le Mura sooner or later. The majority of the buildings were built between 1200 and 1800. And have been renovated over and over. Within “the walls”, there are other walls and gates that provide evidence of how the city grew and was protected over the centuries. The collage below shows just a few of the street performers that I saw. The other pics show typical views of the Lucca streets and piazzas.
“The area around the walls is well taken care of, with green grass and trees everywhere along the walls. They have in essence become a park that surrounds the city and blocks out more modern life. Here you can enjoy a bike ride around the entire perimeter, a stroll as you enjoy a gelato or simply a period of rest from sightseeing on one of the many shaded benches that line the main walkway.” from www.discovertuscany.com. The collage below was taken in 30 minutes of people walking, biking, chatting, delivering, strolling, etc. The other pics were taken of and from the wall.
Lucca is called ‘the city of 100 churches”. There are literally too many churches! Some of them have been “de-consecrated” and are being used for other purposes, such as nightly Puccini concerts. I’ve included pics of the three largest churches. We found a small evangelical church outside the walls and have now attended several of their services and activities. I believe that it will be our church home.
Palazzo Pfanner has a beautiful garden that is visible from Le Mura. People often stop to admire the gardens and rest on one of the benches. On our first ride around the walls, we also had music from a wedding celebration! And on one of my last days of the trip, I finally made it inside of the Palazzo. Click on the pic below to see the Palazzo from the wall, within the gardens and inside the Palazzo.
Learning the language
I spent three weeks at the Lucca Italian School and Jim spent two weeks there. Each weekday we have four hours of class; most of it spent in conversation. I think that both Jim and I learned a lot – and also feel that we have so much more to learn! I can carry out day-to-day conversations at stores and restaurants, but not much further. We want to learn the language so that we can become a true part of the community. But it’s good to know that we can live here with the minimal amount of Italian that we know.
Update on the plan to move to Italy
We made good progress on preparing for our move to Lucca. We met with two local lawyers to discuss our plan and how they can help. We looked at four apartments to get a better sense of the rental market. Although our apartment will be MUCH smaller than our home in Virginia, our standards are still very high for this market. We want crazy things like air conditioning, showers that are big enough to turn around in, and a kitchen that Jim and I can work in together. One had a kitchen that was about 5 feet on each side; one person could cook effectively by literally spinning around – no steps needed! We also saw some very cool features and spaces that have given us the assurance that we will be able to find something that meets are needs/desires and is within our budget. Naturally one of the lawyers has a family member that is a realtor…
Our timeline has been accelerated:
- April 4, 2019: JoAn retires and starts preparing the house for sale and doing some serious downsizing!
- May/June 2019: Visit Lucca to confirm our decision and study Italian.
- Fall 2019: Put our house on the market. Gather sentimental belongings and wine that will age well and take them to Florida. Establish our Florida home base, living with Derek, our son.
- November 2019: Return to Lucca to select an apartment and get a lease in place.
- Early 2020: Apply for Italy’s Elective Residence visa.
- February or March 2020: Move to Lucca, Italy. Plan to stay for 5 to 7 years then return to Florida. Or maybe just stay?
What? Nothing about wine???
We did visit a few wineries and had a couple of special bottles of wine at local restaurants. Check out the pics below.
I hope that you enjoyed this update and the pics from Lucca!