I am drawn to walled cities.
I first became aware of this attraction when I visited Krakow, Poland, thirteen years ago and stayed inside the walls. Even though the walls are no longer intact, a park surrounds the Old City and marks where the walls had once been. I felt safe being inside the Old City.
On my second visit to Krakow a year later, I stayed outside the walls. Every morning, I crossed over into the Old City, and something about being inside the walls felt secure to me.
A few years later, a friend visited Carcassone, a walled city in France, and sent me videos. As soon as I saw the videos, I knew I wanted to visit. It took a few years, but I went last spring, and I specifically chose to travel with Overseas Adventure Travels (O.A.T.) because they offered the opportunity to stay inside the walls of Carcassone.
The tour started further north, though, in Angers, another city with walls. Once again, I felt drawn to being within the walls. When we got to Carcassone, I felt completely at home within the walls.
Last month, I visited Avignon, another walled city, and I again found myself drawn to the inside.
And then last week, I visited Italy and spent a few days in Lucca, a walled city in Tuscany.
The walls around Lucca are intact and the top of the wall is a wide path where people walk, run or bike. I walked the path several times during my stay, enjoying the views of the Old City below.
Not only is Lucca surrounded by a wall, but beyond the walls are mountains, creating the impression of a double boundary.
What is it that draws me to these enclosed places?
Walking the path on the walls of Lucca one day, I pondered the mystery of my attraction to walled cities, and I thought about growing up in Detroit.
Detroit is anything but walled, but there were certain streets which I never crossed. I stayed within the confines of an area around my house, never venturing beyond Woodward Avenue or Eight Mile Road. Without being told to, I had created my own walls.
Awareness brings an invitation, and my awareness of being drawn to walled cities and of creating physical boundaries, makes me think about other walls I have built—not necessarily physical walls but any kind of boundary that gives me a sense of security.
I find myself asking if my walls are a matter of security or a limitation, and if I being invited to step out from beyond the walls and take a chance on what is on the other side.