At heart, Lucca is a medieval city. As you stroll through narrow streets lined with brick buildings and beautifully arched windows you literally walk through the shadows of medieval times.
Among the structures dating from the Middle Ages are the 2 remaining medieval city gates, Porta San Gervasio and Porta Santa Maria di Borgo, along with many of the churches, including the cathedrals of San Martino, San Michele, and San Frediano.
An even stronger flavor of medieval life in Lucca can be experienced through its many festivals and reenactments.
These events, complete with costumes and medieval accoutrements, celebrate major historical events, religious traditions, ancient political rivalries, and daily life from the end of the Roman period through the 14th century. Medieval history seems alive here.
As an example, the Lucchese still celebrate the liberation of Lucca from the control of Pisa - an event that happened in the 1300's!
On a recent Sunday afternoon, at the end of a weekend full of events for the Santa Croce celebration, I watched a medieval tournament that included costumed dancers, an archery completion (won by the team from the San Salvatore district), a drum and flag performance, and a costumed procession through the center of town.
The sight of the archers, with long bows and quivers full of arrows, along with costumed ladies, colorful flags, and the drumbeat of the musicians, all taking place against the backdrop of the Basilica di San Michele, brought this historical period to life for me. Spectacles like this are just one of the many reasons that Lucca draws me back, time after time. post by JMB