2006 Cities

by john on January 1, 2007

Kottke’s My Year in Cities seemed like an appropriate way to remember my own 2006.

Chicago *
Amsterdam *
Brussels
Paris
London
Barcelona
Cambridge
New York City
Rome
Florence
Lucca
Venice
Positano
Las Vegas

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Bold cities were non-work travel. The family also came to Chicago once while I was there for work. A little more travel than normal and a couple of the trips were for unusual circumstances. I expect less travel in 2007.

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RKB January 2, 2007 at 10:09 pm

John,

Ah, the coincidence of a small world. I was cleaning out my home office this afternoon and happened upon on old hand-written journal I’d initially used to document my travels to Europe in 1992, including a week-long stay at San Gimingano, with side trips to both Florence and Lucca. I’d made a rough attempt to sketch the walls in the journal. Better was the description of the tour my family and I had received from the father-in-law of one of my college professors, a native resident of Lucca, a civil engineer and architect, who shared much of the city’s history with us.

From my journal, since it’s suddenly handy:

The walls of Lucca. Again, I found myself impressed by both their stature and their perfect condition. Giovanni told us that it took 200 years to build them, and were finished sometime in the 1500’s (the date 1560 sticks out in my mind). Lucca was never attacked. The walls were so formidable, and so well-engineered, that it was deemed a futile cause. 30-40 feet thick, probably 30 feet high, ranging a good 4 km around the city. There is a two lane road atop the wall, now, lined with trees. Cars are no longer allowed on top of the wall; it’s actually a pretty nice jogging path now.

But the defense system was amazing. The “U” — where the wall seems to come back in on itself — held cannons. They would protect the length of the wall. Also, one could be able to put together a sortie of men, protected in the alcove between the walls, and do additional battle with the enemy, if necessary. The large block in the middle of the “U” created two narrow passageways into a more expansive alcove, hence only a few men could defend it from vastly superior numbers. Dad was suitably impressed.

In addition to the heretofore mentioned defenses, the grass fields outside of the city were below the water level of the small moat. Thus, the grass could be flooded to create a marsh upon which no seige weapons could be brought. Quite the marvelous feat of engineering.

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