San Frediano and the coronavirus

We are starting to settle into our new home in Lucca Italy. I’ve even had some time to relax, gaze out of the windows, take a few pictures and start identifying the town birds.

San Frediano church. There are three great churches in Lucca; two are very orate and are in the Pisan style; and the third is San Frediano, a typical Romanesque church – solid, severe and simple. Except for that amazing frontal mosaic! The mosaic was added in the later 1200’s as the town’s main cathedral was getting a new facade and the caretakers of San Frediano wanted their own facade update but one that would be different from the ornate cathedral.

The church is one of the most striking buildings that we can see from our altana. The altana is a delightful square room in our apartment that rises above the rest of the building. It has windows on all four sides with remarkable views from each. The sun sets next to San Frediano so I started my Lucca photography journey focused on it, and included a few pictures from other times of the day.

“The [mosaic] work shows the Ascension of Christ in a mandorla held by two angels. Below are the twelve Apostles, looking up at the miraculous event. The writing makes clear the context: ‘Why do the Galileans look towards the sky?’ This, Galileans, is the son of God rising above.’” (from The Wanderer’s Guide to Lucca by Lindquist.)

Construction of the church itself was mostly completed by 1147, although many modifications, enhancements, and improvements have been made in the centuries since. During my May 2019 visit to Lucca, I went inside. Lots of beautiful artwork and I look forward to returning once we can freely move around and public buildings are re-opened. I may include some interior pictures on a blog post in the future.

“These days”. That’s the phrase that many are using to refer to this time with the coronavirus pandemic underway and many restrictions in place to force “social distancing”. Italy was hit hard and early by the coronavirus and has taken many measures to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus infections. Our day-to-day life is a lot different than it will be later. But we’ve accepted it and are doing our best at minimizing our risk and those around us, while slowly getting our apartment set up. Jim is doing most of the shopping as I have Crohn’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. He is becoming familiar with some of the people in our building and shops that he visits. Eventually we hope to get to know all of them. Having this as a shared experience may be valuable in deepening our relationships with the Lucchesi people.

One of the special aspects of Lucca is the wide Renaissance walls that go all around Lucca. The walls serve as the town’s main park. People walk, run, picnic, bicycle, etc. on it. About a week ago, a decision was made to shut it down completely, as too many people were bending the rules and using it as a gathering spot. Below are pictures of the empty wall – a situation that I’ll likely never see after these restrictions are lifted.

The empty walls of Lucca

Residency status. The visa that we were so anxious to receive is only the first step in obtaining permanent residency. Upon arrival, we had 8 working days to submit our application for the permesso di soggiorno, or permission to live here. Given all the restrictions, the deadline was relaxed so we had plenty of time. But we realized that we had no document that showed that we were residents and were uncomfortable with that situation. We decided to see how far through the process we could get. The first step is to go the Post Office, which is typically a lengthy and confusing experience. I walked in and there were three windows open with two customers. I explained what I needed in my lousy Italian and left within minutes with the forms that we needed. What??? Something simpler because of the coronavirus regulations??? I filled out the lengthy form with lots of help from resources available on the Internet and included some of the same attachments that went with the visa applications. You need to include a 16€ stamp that you get from one of the tabaccaia stores. One is a few doors from our apartment and took just a few minutes to get. Then both of us needed to return to the Post Office. After a short wait, one of the people at the window quickly looked through the package and it seemed that this was just going to be too easy! Then she asks us how much we needed to pay for the permit. We didn’t know but she said that it our responsibility. So… we sat down in some chairs and started googling. We quickly learned that it was between €40 and €100. We decided on €50 based on some confusing descriptions and went back to the same window. Nope, she said; €50 was not the right number. She didn’t know what the right amount was, but it wasn’t €50. She said that it wasn’t a whole number. I was ready to go home so that I could do proper research, but Jim insisted on staying at the Post Office. Back to the chairs and back to googling. I finally found it on Italian immigration site. The right answer was €70.46. She seemed happy with that and gave us the all-important receipts which served as a temporary residency permit. Next step is a visit to the Questura in mid-June to get the official permit. Then the Carta d’identità…

Our prayers these days are focused on the coronavirus – for the health of all the medical workers and patients, the Luccesi community, our new church family, for the shopkeepers we meet, and for all our family and friends back in the U.S. We are all dealing with our first pandemic that it significantly impacting each of our lives.



12 thoughts on “San Frediano and the coronavirus

  1. Great idea on starting your beautiful photos. Sounds like you are settling in despite the COVID challenges. Stay healthy & enjoy!

  2. Thanks for this JoAn. Your pictures are beautiful. We are hanging in there. The biggest change for us is watching 6 year old Collins all week. Thank goodness for online classes which are important and help pass the time with her. She has way too much energy. We think about you quite often and you and Jim will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. By the way, your dinners look delicious! Sharon

  3. Thank you so much for posting and letting us know you are ok. Please continue to do so when you can. Lovely pictures! You have such an eye.

  4. I am glad to read the update. I was thinking a lot about you and your journey. Stay safe and positive this too shall pass.

      • Everything is good here, I could say business as usual but I would be lying. We are all trying to adjust and cope with the changes and challenges. School started online this morning and I think it’s going to be like this until the end of the school year.

  5. So glad you are doing well during “these days”. That resident application process seems like a real game show, guess the permit amount is really weird. Jan and I did takeout at Pazzo Pomodoro last night – the only way you can “eat out”. We’re all about helping local businesses stay afloat during these days. BTW the lasagna was fantastic! Keep the blog going!

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