The old city of Lucca is ringed by ramparts, wide walls that have extended into biking paths and small parks, overlooking the buildings, churches and piazzi. But within the walls, despite the cobblestone streets, it feels the most modern I’ve experienced in the past two days, with contemporary shops all around. Cortona and Assisi seemed like another time. This feels, not quite like today, but not like so long ago either.
In the Hotel Palazzo Alexander, each room is named after an Italian opera. I am in Rigoletto – named for Verdi’s tale of a hunchbacked jester, based on Victor Hugo’s “Le Roi S’amuse.”
Nearly everyone in Lucca, at least in the old part of the city, either walks or rides bikes. Europeans have a marvelous way of peddling bicycles with the kind of dignity that Americans lack. Even when used as a mode of transit, cycling always seems an athletic venture in the States. Here in Lucca, it looks much more proper. I think the only person at home whom I ever seen adapt a Euro-style cycling stance is my nursery school teacher, Miss Thurm, who pedals her way around New York City, and who, the last time I saw her, had not changed in 25 years.
Kelli, my friend and colleague who recommended I visit Lucca, a town I’d never heard of, has advised me to rent a bike, but the timing doesn’t really allow for that, so I continue to add on to the miles I trek on foot. One thing I notice: I very much like the doors here.
I told you, I have a strange obsession with taking pictures of doors.
Inasmuch as I enjoy traveling alone, I find that on most solo ventures, there comes a few hours of melancholy, and this is the evening thereof. The idea of sitting alone in a restaurant does not appeal tonight, so I stop in at a small pizzeria and take dinner back to my hotel room.
I awaken during the night and venture downstairs to the guest computer — the first access I’ve had to the internet in several days. I actually get to chat with Joe – a rarity as he’s hardly ever lingering on gmail – but other than that, I kind of hate this computer for being here and myself for being on it.
Of course, I’m compelled to check some sites I like, including Facebook. As I sign on, I have a sense of self-loathing. It’s been such a lovely five days without word of anyone’s baby or work woes, fitness progress or dilettante life philosophy. Why am I doing this?
I do manage to avoid checking my work email. I am not anxious to get back to work. Or more accurately, I am not eager to get back to work. I am anxious about getting back to work. I have a story due three days after my return, and a few projects I’ve been working on. I will not think about work before I set foot back into that office.
For now, I will be here.
I’m quite terrible about anticipating sadness. I fall into a funk three days before goodbyes. Currently, I am pushing away the dread of that voice in my head that will say, “Okay, you had your time away. Now back to the grindstone.”
Can I just stay away? Can I trade my return ticket from Milan into a one way for Joe? I’m worth leaving everything behind for, right?
Mi amore, con te partiro. With you I will go. Anywhere. Will you go with me? We’ll see the world, wander indefinitely and won’t tell anyone where we are.
If only… if only…
(More pictures of doors, to detract from my traveler’s ennui, or whatever the Italian word for ennui is):