If the trees seem taller here in Lucca than is usual, perhaps it's because they actually grow on top of the massive walls surrounding the fortified city. And you can walk amongst them—or picnic, play with your children, roller-skate, ride a bike, or prepare for a marathon. All on top of the 40-foot high walls whose foundations date back to Roman times.
A paved pedestrian promenade allows plenty of room for families to walk or bike together, and there are grassy park areas for picnicking and playing under the massive trees. Indeed, it's the thing to do while in Lucca.
As you complete the circuit around the old town, look down on the various neighborhoods and shops. You'll see winding cobbled streets, small gardens, ancient churches with bell towers, and other buildings of architectural interest.
When I was in Lucca, an antiques fair (Fiera Antiquaria) was taking place, as it does every third Sunday of each month. Lots of junk was on display, much of it plastic Asian imports. But dig a little deeper into the town (by now you'll have climbed down off the walls), and you'll find over 200 antiques vendors offering beautiful but pricey furniture, vintage carpets and tapestries, books, old keys, clothing, jewelry, and more. It's not cheap, and the vendors I spoke with were not amenable to haggling. But it's worth a look.
Back on the walls for another circuit of old-town Lucca, the trees sway peacefully overhead, inviting you to sit back, share a bottle of wine, and enjoy the view.
© 2013 AFAR Media