Walls and old Cartoons

10 July 2013

Last day in Lucca today, and starting to get a bit of sightseeing fatigue!

We left home quite a bit later this morning, waiting until about 0900 to start walking. And we found Lucca’s rush-hour. At 0910, there was pretty much standstill traffic. I guess everyone starts work a lot later here. (Which makes sense, if you have dinner at 8 or 9pm, and the kids are still up at 2230.)

Given our reluctance to attempt cycling with a bag each and a camera, we decided to make this walk-around-the-wall day. Morning is a great time to stroll the 4.2 km around the top of the wall, as there is plenty of shade, and, on occasion, a light zephyr. The trees that line both sides of the top of the wall differ in age, and therefore size. Where there are more mature trees, there is a complete canopy over the road.

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The window is on the side of one of the porta, or gates.

At 11 places on Lucca’s mura there are baluardo (ramparts).

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These structures appear to have been made with the express purpose of housing defensive troops: archers, artillery-men, or both. Below the level of the wall there are a number of archways — some leading to paths that give access in to or out of Lucca, but others (closed off) appear to lead into the wall itself. Apparently, there are tunnels within the walls at some places that were designed to enable the soldiers defending Lucca to position for sorties without detection by the enemy.

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Whilst walking around the wall at a very leisurely pace, getting overtaken by joggers, cyclists and German tourists in those four-place pedal-powered bike-cart things like they have on the waterfront at Wellington, we located the TIM store and the Wednesday markets.

TIM is a telecommunications company, and we had been told that we could buy there a prepaid SIM card for my iPad so that we would at least have ’emergency’ Internet access if we get stranded somewhere. Alessia’s friends in the building (who speak English) had kindly written in Italian precisely what we needed to ask for, so I showed that to the guy behind the counter (who did speak a bit of English), and he instantly understood. 20 euro later, I have 5 GB to use over the next month on some sort of prepaid thingy for ‘internationals’. Hooray. (I did have to show my passport, which was photocopied, and sign three places on an agreement in Italian that appeared to promise that I wasn’t going to use the Internet to invade anyone’s privacy. I guess the passport photocopy was to track me down if I do!!)

And the markets. These were outwardly typical of a flea market anywhere — and quite extensive. The primary difference was that most of the summer clothing on offer is made in Italy. (Most didn’t have sizes; and most seemed to be aimed at the Italian market — ie small!) Whilst tempted by the rainbow striped, extremely skimpy ’70s style ‘jumpsuit'(!) and the fluorescent skirts, I did purchase a long, casual, navy-blue, broiderie Anglaise summer dress and a shoulder cover. I am beginning to understand why all Italian women seem to wear dresses: shorts (other than those that are hot-pants length, and that is so not going to happen) are just too hot!

Lunch in the shade on the mura, then off to see what the Museo Nazionale del Fumetto (Comics Museum) was all about.

According to our wee guide book, this museum was established in 1966; and Lucca was a ‘lively centre’ of comic art. ‘Comic’ seemed a little of a misnomer for the first (and for me, most interesting) part of the display: the work of Walter Molino. Walter’s talent was evident early, his first drawings being published when he was only 15 years old. He is perhaps best remembered for his work on Domenica del Corriere, which he illustrated from 1941 until 1971. He also produced the logo and many, many covers for the weekly magazine Grand Hotel.

I have never heard of Walter before, but he is, apparently, best known in Italy for his illustrations of women. According to one of the information plaques in the museum:

“Molino captured the evolution of the Italian woman; he was also the mentor of changes… Female readers wanted to wear similar clothes of women depicted in his illustrations.”

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There was a very interesting selection of his illustrations for Domenica del Corriere (which I think translates to the Sunday Courier) and Grand Hotel from the 1950s and 60s, portraying women in various roles: from wife and mother to soccer player, secretary and soldier. (The images were displayed under glass, with overhead lighting — so some unavoidable reflections, unfortunately.)

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Another sequence showed women’s fight for the vote:

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And then there was a selection of ink illustrations — for what purpose, I am not sure — but they all show women in a variety of activities. They are extremely well crafted, even if the reason behind some of the subject matter is something of a mystery:

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I do like the fact that he drew all of his women with big hips!

Again, according to information on one of the plaques, Molino was well known for his satirical illustrations;…

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…and caricatures of TV and cinema stars. Unfortunately, there were only two caricatures in the museum. I kinda like these.

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The rest of the museum had illustrations from several more people I had never heard of, including Luciano and Federico Pedrocchi, authors of (apparently) the first science-fiction comic strip.

The museum is neat and tidy, but seems somewhat abandoned. It is spread out among several separate areas in the Bourbon Stables in the Piazza San Romano. We were the only people there. If you want a bit of peace and quiet, it’s all yours for only 4 euro.

More gelato before we headed home. Managed to say strawberries correctly today: it’s fra-gola (emphasis on the first syllable; hard ‘g’ in the second); not fra-jo-la, like I said it yesterday!

And then we saw this shop:

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Had to take a photo, as we have friends with a wee daughter called Daria.

Off to Manarola in Cinque Terre tomorrow (where we will have free wi-fi again, so I can upload the photos I want to put in these Lucca posts, and publish them.) Three trains to navigate this time. Wish us luck!

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