A painting of people walking on top of the walls...

The walls of Lucca, Italy
When I first read about the walls of Lucca, in Tuscany, I really
didn't understand. I had read that you could ride a bike
around the top of them. Strange!
It's hard to imagine without seeing photos, so I spent a few
hours this afternoon taking some photos with my phone, and
I hope this explains the walls ...



The walls around the city of Lucca, Tuscany are about 2.5 miles long. The city inside was originally Roman, and the original layout of most of the streets and piazzas was Roman. The original Roman wall was 2/3 the size of the current wall. In the 1500-1600s the walls were expanded to their current size, and shortly after, most of the city was completed.

The green space around the city was the moat. And notice those heart shaped parts with the trees? Those are called 'baluardi' and they are part of the wall, too.

The wall has 6 gates into the city, and 10 heart-shaped 'baluardi'. In this sattelite view, you can see the old roman streetplan. See the round piazza? That was the stadium with gladiators, the whole works. The old Roman part was the left 2/3 of the city, and the 'newer' 1600s part is the right 1/3. You can see the canal which runs through the city -- I'll show it later. It runs between the old part and the new part, called 'via del Fosso.'

I'm off to explore this, on my trusty (and rusty) steed, the "Galant", which I keeped parked in the street by my apartment.

I started by riding through the gate, to outside the city to take this photo. This is what the walls and old moat look like now. People let their dogs run, or play soccer etc in these fields which circle the city. You can see the long stretch of wall, and then a 'baluardo' sticking out at the end, with the big trees on top. To the left just above the wall you can see the top of one of the towers in the city center. If an enemy army approached, the canal I mentioned, that runs through the city, could be closed, and it would flood this entire area and create a huge moat arround the city.

To get back inside the city, there are 6 'doors' or 'porta'. This one is called Porta Santa Maria and it is in the north of the city. I'm going back into the city through this one.

The gates had three sets of doors, so if an enemy crossed the moat, and broke through the first door, they could only enter a room. And then while they worked to breakdown the second set of doors.....










The Lucchese could pour boiling water and shoot arrow out of holes in the walls and ceiling.







Here's one of the doors, covered with metal. The locals don't even notice these things anymore, they are so used to them. (Except that pigeon). But I think they are beautiful -- well, in a military craftsmanship kind of way.





Inside the walls, the gate looks like this. Those trees to the right are on top of the walls.

Things are much friendlier now. The entire top of the wall is now a park, unique in all the world. On top of the wall there is this path, and the locals stroll, jog, or pedal around constantly. To the right here, in the distance, there is a short 3 foot wall, then the dropoff into the fields/moat on the other side.

Here's another stretch on top of the wall. The gentle slope on the right down into the city center, and on the left, a small barrier keeping people from falling off the outside walls.

If you climb on top of the barrier, this is what it looks like. Here I'm looking down at one of the baluardi. The people on the right are on the path around the top of the walls. It is a great place to stroll, or jog around (4km) or bike or sit on a bench or picnic...

The baluardi are really interesting. Each one is different. They are full of rooms and tunnels and traps, like this one... if an enemy army broke through a series of doors, they found themselves in this field, surrounded. All the baluardi are now parks.

This one still has the ruins of a fort on top of it. See those round things? Those are air holes into the tunnels inside the baluardo. I'll head inside now.....

The tunnell wind around in huge rooms, with fireplaces for the troops.

Air holes from inside........................and lots of passages leading here and there.

Here's a hole where a canon stuck out. The baluardi are heart-shaped because that protected the canons, which were placed here along the face of the wall. You can see the walking path that leads from outside the walls, through these tunnels, into the old city and another baluardo in the distance. The locals don't even really think about the fact that they walk through this on their way to work every day -- just a normal commute.

I'm back on top of the walls looking back at the particular baluardo, you can see the fort ruins on top to the left, park with some picnickers on the right, and the walking path into the baluardo down below.

The Serchio River passes near Lucca. And part of it goes into this canal, which is routed through the center of the city. Here is a photo from on top of the walls looking out at the canal.

Here's what it looks like going through the city. That roundish tower on the left is the old Roman gate to the city, and this canal would have been, at the time, outside the city.

The canal is full of fish..................... and today a duck, see her in the water to the left?

At the end of this photo, you can see the grass slope leading up to the top of the walls.... I'm going up there.

One of the baluardi, on top of the walls, still has the remains of an old fort. It has been converted into this restaurant. Inside, there is a plate glass floor and you can see down into the tunnels from inside. They have music at night. I'm stopping for an espresso. And maybe a gelato.

On the way home, I pass this really nice spot. This is looking down from on top of the walls, into the city. See that huge tower. Just barely to the right of it, in the distance, you can see another tower. This is the private tower of one of my apartments in the city, which I have in my portfolio to rent. You can sit on top and enjoy 360 views over the rooftops. And if you look further to the right, you can see another tower, world famous... with oak trees growing on top of it.

On the way back home I pass two old Roman gates...

and a Lucca parking lot...

and when I park my bike, these two are sleeping outside the shop across the street.