Tuscany has long been a destination for British tourists. There is even a joke about Tuscany being "Chiantishire" because of all the Brits who own homes here. But I don't think Tuscany, especially Lucca, has seen a British Invasion quite like this before.
As I write this, it is the morning of September 23 in Lucca and the concert begins in about 10 hours. The stage has been under construction for weeks in the green space at the edge of the old town walls. Fans with tickets have gathered outside the entrance since early this morning - some even camped out overnight.
Locals seem divided about the event - some are excited and hold much-coveted tickets to the show; others find it a giant disruption. Its a big event for this small town and no doubt road closures, tree removal, and construction chaos have taken a toll.
And yet, there is definitely a sense of excitement in town. The band has arrived and everyone hopes for a sighting. Fans have begun to fill the town and everywhere I hear the question, "Hai un biglietto?" Do you have a ticket? The tickets sold out quickly, only a very few remain. For about $300 it is standing room only - in the midst of 55,000 of your closest friends!
Hotel rooms went just as quickly; a newspaper headline claims houses are renting for 1,000 euro (about $1,200) for the night of the concert. Maybe I should sublet my extra bedroom? On second thought, maybe not!
Walking through town, I hear the sound of Rolling Stones' classics drifting (make that thundering) out of windows. "Ruby Tuesday" (playing in the apartment across the street) welcomed me home last evening. Teenagers walk the streets in Rolling Stones T-shirts, singing lyrics written long before they were born. There are also plenty of fans who look like they were around for the first Rolling Stones' hits in the '60s (and my guess is they have an original "Let it Bleed" LP to prove it). Timeless music in this timeless city. It's a big change from the rehearsal for a Puccini Mass that I heard a couple of days ago - and yet it makes me smile just as much.
But I am a "have not" - no concert ticket for me. I doubt I'll catch even a glimpse of the show, as the areas surrounding the venue are completely blocked to foot traffic. But I plan to be just outside the stadium to hear some of it. Now, if only I could catch a selfie with Mick to post on the blog!
-post by JMB