Excerpts from a journal discovered just outside the city walls…
As I sit under the stars and write this, I can only hope that my family and friends back home are doing well. We are nearly a month into our tour, and we have just completed a journey fraught with considerable danger. We have finished laying siege to the once impenetrable walls of Lucca, Italy in the Tuscany region.
Two thousand years ago, the city of Lucca was built as a Roman settlement. Because of the tumultuous nature of the area at the time, the city was built within typical Roman walls. It was strategically placed in the middle of a large valley, which meant that an approaching enemy could be spotted from a distance. The wall lasted until Medieval Times, when the city was expanded and a new wall was erected. The wall was again rebuilt in the 16th century when the advent of the cannon made the second wall obsolete. The people of Lucca pooled their resources and created a wall composed of a 100 foot wide mound of dirt fronted by a brick wall. This 500 year old wall remains today, a fitting tribute to a city that has never successfully been attacked.
Our local contact, code name “Alfredo,” told us to approach from the north. He directed us to a gate through which we could gain entry to the city, and from there, he took us to a room near the square, where we spent the next two nights.
Once inside the city, we had to plan our attack. We reconnoitered atop the city wall, and we discovered that this wall, which had become the pride and joy of the city, was where our energies would be best put to use.
We spent the rest of our evening getting to know our way around the city. Luckily, the city’s most formidable defense, the wall, was also going to be its downfall. No matter where we found ourselves in Lucca, we were always a stone’s throw from the ramparts, which were left unguarded from the inside.
Now that we knew just how easy it would be to gain the top of the wall and thus, conquer the city of Lucca, we decided to find a good meal and get some sleep. We were fortunate to discover a restaurant known for its varied selection of whiskeys, so we stopped for a bite. My partner, code name “Lindy,” ordered shrimp skewers and a glass of local wine, while I had a delectable steak and a glass of Scotland’s finest Scotch Whiskey.
Our energies restored by a good meal, a healthy (or perhaps more than is healthy) portion of local gelatto, and a full night’s sleep, it was time to carry out our attack! We acquired some very docile mounts, and we stormed the pedestrian walkway that the city walls have become!
Our victory over the wall was swift and sweet. The city’s inhabitants were taken completely by surprise, and within an hour the battle was over. All that now remained to be conquered was the historic Torre Gianigi.
The final surviving tower mansion, originally one of 70, and former residence literally “towers” above the city. In the 1300s this building housed a wealthy merchant family with a different room on each floor. Staircases and porches wound around the outside to connect the different rooms, and the rooftop garden, planted with holm oaks, symbolized the rebirth of the city at the time. We summited the two hundred thirty-nine steps (not the originals!), and so swift and powerful was our attack that nary a hand was raised in opposition.
To celebrate our decisive victory, we chose to venture outside the walls and visit the Greo Vineyard and Winery, where it was our intention to celebrate by touring the facilities and tasting the local wine. We headed into the hills, crossed a small bridge, and arrived just in time to find Greo himself awaiting us. Greo, though, was a stubborn man. He refused to speak English (he said he didn’t know any), and though he was well aware that we didn’t understand his native tounge, he took us on the tour in Italian. After about ten minutes, he gave up and began pouring our samples.
Normally, wine tasting consists of partaking in very small portions of a variety of wines. Greo, we soon discovered, had more sinister intentions. He began pouring full glasses, obviously with the intention of getting us drunk and taking us captive. We saw right through his subterfuge, though, and we took him by surprise when we asked to purchase a bottle of his best white as well as a bottle of olive oil. We left with our spoils, and we headed back to the city to rest in anticipation of our next assignment: seeking out the lost city of Pompei.