|The cathedral in St Michael's Square|
|Composer Giacomo Puccini|
As it gained strength, Florence also began conquering other towns except Lucca, which managed to become independent. But Lucca also managed to specialize in silk, in particular weaving gold thread into it.
These days it is best known for making shoes -- particularly sewing the leather uppers, which is why there are many shoe shops here and places to buy leather goods.
One of the most famous people to come from Lucca is composer Giacomo Puccini. Apparently his music is the most played in the world, with songs from La Boheme and Turandot. His childhood home was pointed out to us, and we got to see that he probably had a good view of the church in St Michael's Square, the centre of the town.
|Along the top of the city walls of Lucca|
Somehow the town of over 80,000 people has over 50 churches. Our guide explained that during Roman times, the Romans did not get along with the Christians and so the churches were in a corner of the town. But soon afterwards they proliferated and many of the churches are in buildings that don't necessarily look like a typical church.
Many pilgrims come here to see "the Holy face of Jesus"... it is said in the Bible that Nicodemus took Jesus down from the cross and prepared him for burial. He was Jewish and could not create icons of God. But he had tried to sculpt Jesus' face and left the work unfinished overnight.
|Can you see the graffiti from the 13th century?|
In any event our guide wanted to point out that even in the 13th century there was graffiti on the walls. Graffiti is an Italian word that means "scratches".
We were then led to a square that was actually oval because before it used to be an amphitheatre and over time it lost its use and people modified the space into other more practical things, like a marketplace in the 1830s. Today it's a "square" surrounded by restaurants and touristy shops.
|Some enticing buccellato in the pastry shop|
To snack on, the best known food here is buccellato, a bread that is slightly sweet.