October 2, 2023
LUCCA, Italy — Following a summer of record heat, residents of Lucca, a historic city in the heart of Tuscany, have more to look forward to than cooler fall weather with the return of its beloved annual “Settembre Lucchese” festival.
The celebration, which runs from the end of August through Oct. 1, puts Lucca’s rich culture on display with activities that include religious celebrations, folkloristic parades, livestock shows, exhibitions by local artists, and the lively “Luna Park” carnival.
The festivities span a large area, from Lucca’s city center — famously known for its perimeter of medieval-era walls and picturesque cobblestone streets — to the Piazzale Don Franco Baroni, roughly 2 kilometers north.
This year’s celebration holds added significance as it marks the festival’s first return since the pandemic. The pandemic forced the closure of numerous events worldwide, with many communities feeling the absence of their cherished local traditions. Lucca’s annual fair, a staple in the region’s calendar, was among the events that went dark.
With the fair’s return, the optimism among local residents is palpable. Nino, who has attended the festival since he was a child and declined to give his full name, now gets to enjoy the festivities with his 12-year-old son. “This is something we look forward to every year and we have fun,” Nino said. “We are happy it’s back and now we [can] enjoy.”
While the festival undeniably embodies deep historical, religious, and cultural significance, it also presents a golden economic opportunity for local businesses, courtesy of a surge in tourism. In the years preceding the pandemic, the festival attracted thousands of tourists. Now that it’s returned, local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, artisan boutiques and transportation services, will be able to reap the benefits of this influx.
As Lucca’s streets once again reverberate with the sounds of joy, laughter, and commerce, the annual event represents not just a cultural occasion but also a step back towards normalcy for this city with a storied past.