Friday, 13 September 2013

A date in Lucca with some very professional KILLERS.

July 16-17, 2013

 It was time to jump ship for a while as we had a very important meeting arranged in Northern Italy with The Killers. No! Not the Mafioso type killers, but the very successful rock band from Las Vegas that goes by that name. Rob’s brother, Michael, is the band’s production manager and as it was getting on towards three years since we’d seen him we thought their appearance at the Lucca Summer Festival was too good a chance to pass up.


There's nothing like spending an evening with four Killers from Vegas.
So after spending the past month making our way south along the Italian coast, we were headed back north again almost to whence we came from. We caught an early bus from the marina into the nearby town of Ostia where we took a train into Rome’s Termini central station, connected with a nice speedy Eurorail train to Florence for a ninety minute stop over before boarding a regional train to Lucca and finally a taxi to the hotel. It may not have taken a month to get back up north but the ten hours on public transport felt like it by the time we walked through the lobby doors. We’d been fortunate to get a discounted, last minute online booking at the same hotel Michael and the band’s crew were staying in which made everything much simpler.  We ventured into the old town with Michael later in the evening and enjoyed a great catch up over a fantastic meal with even better wines at a restaurant recommended by the festival promoter. You can’t beat local knowledge.


The old town of Lucca is incredibly well preserved behind its intact walls. Number 1 marks the Piazza Napoleone where all the Lucca Summer Festival shows are held.


A small drain and wide grassy fields now stand in place of a deep, defensive moat.
Lucca is a medieval walled town which was originally surrounded by a deep, defensive moat. Of course a largish provincial city has now grown and spread out around it but, unusually for this region, the original walls and gates remain totally intact and the old town is incredibly well preserved. Where the moat once surrounded the town a wide, open grassed area now delineates new from old. We explored the old town while Michael was occupied setting up for the concert that night. We found the usual Duomo (Cathedral) complete with impressive artworks, ornate decoration with a large square out front and numerous other historic churches on virtually every second block. 
The Cathedral at Lucca with its marble fa├žade and elaborate decoration was well worth a visit.
Those medieval Catholics certainly took their religion very seriously. Either that or no one wanted to walk more than 100 metres to church because they certainly filled every little town with dozens of them. They've got more franchise outlets than McDonalds. There were also numerous attractive piazzas lined with quaint cafes, bars and all too enticing gelatarias offering the best handmade ice-cream in the world.
Although Lucca has become very popular with tourists looking to experience a side of Italy beyond the major cities of Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice, even in the height of summer we didn’t find anywhere unduly crowded.
No it's not the Cathedral, just one of the dozens of impressive churches in Lucca
We're not sure what this woman did to spent centuries behind glass in the wall of one of Lucca's churches.
There are beautiful buildings at almost every turn in Lucca.
The Lucca Summer Festival began in 1998 with three nights of shows headlined by Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker. It has since hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry from Lisa Minnelli to Santana and Eric Clapton along with just about everyone in between. It has also grown to the stage the 2013 edition was run over  fifteen July nights with top line acts including Leonard Cohen, Diana Krall, Bryan Adams, Nick Cave, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and, of course, The Killers.
The Lucca Summer Festival has hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry since its inception in 1998
 
Setting up for the open air Killers show in Piazza Napoleone
Michael doing what he does best. With enough cast and crew on tour to fill a chartered 737 not to mention many truck loads of gear, there's always plenty to organise. Don't mind the wine on the table. That's Rob's. OK that could also be a glass down Michael's end of the bench but don't tell his boss.
After a great day playing tourists we jumped a ride with some of the crew back to the hotel and freshened up before the show. Once back at the venue we enjoyed a nice meal courtesy of the band’s catering and then Michael very kindly positioned us just off the side of stage, complete with a fine bottle of Super Tuscan Red, to enjoy the show. And that we did, very much indeed actually. The Killers are an extremely good live act. If you like loud, energetic rock and roll check them out when they play near you some time. You won’t be disappointed.


The enthusiastic crowd that packed the Piazza were rewarded with a great show.
 
Relaxing with Michael and the band backstage after the show
 
 
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