Of Small Windows and Large Trees

One of the great pleasures in living near a beautiful city as Lucca for almost ten years is that one is no longer obliged to do any more must-see frenetic sightseeing – as is often the presumed duty when one has just a few days to visit the place.

Yesterday I strolled around Lucca for no very good reason and unwittingly came across these otherwise not very remarkable sights.

How many small children living in the great palazzi of Lucca’s historic centre must have been frustrated at not being able to be tall enough to peer through the too highly placed grand windows? No problem. Thoughtful parents would provide a small, lower one to satisfy their offspring’s’ desires.

The one I spotted is in via Burlamacchi.

It is called a “finistrella”, (as I found out from that amazingly unorthodox guide book, “Secret Tuscany” by Carlo Caselli), and has thoughtful bars placed across it to prevent children from accidentally falling out. It is thus “enfenestrated” rather than “defenestrated”!

The house opposite may have had another of these finistrelle (there are quite a few to note in Lucca) but it seems to have been blocked up. Perhaps the children either grew up fast or were too much given to staring out at the street life, rather like they today are seduced by TV and video games.

There are many other finistrelle around in Lucca’s old centre. Do let me know where you spot your ones.

Lucca’s most famous and, in my present (though not former) opinion, greatest son is of course, Giacomo Puccini. Outside his house it’s always a good day to get some fry-ups with the added bonus of a bit of Mozart thrown in.

Fish ‘n chips a la Puccini? Is that maybe what they ate in the barge in “Il Tabarro?” Perhaps even Don Giovanni may have enjoyed his fish  suppers constantly hot for the eternal remainder of his underworld life?

In any case Puccini would not have lacked matches (or perhaps one of his beautiful Dunhill lighters?) to light the fryday stove.

Perhaps to light those cigarettes which would be the death of him? As a rabid anti-smoker I felt very tempted, if I had a metal saw, to remove the cigarette held by the Maestro in his incarnation (or inbronzification) in the square outside the family home (since 2011 again open to the public and well worth a visit.)

Fortunately, these acts of vandalism only occur to neo non-smokers like me (I gave up the filthy habit last March).

(To do the script writer justice, the board on the other side of the entrance door got the spelling right).


For advent, Lucca seemed still very low key and little prepared for the Christmas spirit. The main square (Piazza Napoleone or Piazza Grande) had still not its Christmas market set up and there was no ice-rink installed.


What were there, however, were the regal plane trees, now shorn of their leaves and looking even more sculptural. For how long I wonder? Many of them have been found with terrible internal decay and some were even filled with concrete to keep them standing. Even plane trees will not last for ever, of course, and I am heart-broken to know that, perhaps within my lifetime, this most evocative of squares could be shorn, in a “tranced summer-night”, of  “those green-rob’d senators of mighty woods”, as Keats in his unfinished poem, “Hyperion”, so precisely put it.


Already the process has started with the tree-girt avenues surrounding Lucca’s walls.


Perhaps the garden centre behind these sad stumps could help out with new saplings?

Anyway, enough this time of my aimless wanderings through this enchanted city – except to say that I saw some sun (we haven’t properly seen it for the past few weeks) in these gorgeous sunflowers on the way out of Lucca.



4 thoughts on “Of Small Windows and Large Trees

  1. I’m sad to hear about the plane trees, but as you say, they can’t live forever.

    I’ll be on the lookout for the finistrelle in Florence and Lucca, for sure.

  2. Well the sad matter is that this disease it seems is awaited also in the UK and equally as yet no solution to this problem has been found. As with the lime trees i tigli Italy had to chop down these too in Viareggio its famous and majestic Viale dei Tigli was no more albeit it has luckily been replanted with smaller specimens it will obviously take years before these trees can offer a more adequate amount of shade. Sicily too had a terrible moment when it was losing a lot of its famous palm trees to some sort of bug however a cure was found and most ancient palm trees have been happily restored back to health. I find these fenestrelle odd I wonder are these also the foreunners or prototypes of cat or dog flaps also? Dear Master Puccini had that terrible illness due to smoking so really the sculptor has captured this somewhat bad habit and immortalised it very unusual I must say but true to form and after all it was the cause sadly of Maesto Puccinis demise.

  3. I always enjoy your articles, but this was most welcome. Lucca is so special. We will be Finistrelle spotting when we return. I am sure the plane trees will return with greater vigour, but for now perhaps, its time to plan for their future.

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