A little world of the past, wrapped inside a fairytale scenary.
If I had to talk about Concord in just a few words, I could’t be able to find a more appropriate description.
It’s amazing to think how this pretty town in New England, set inside a wonderful landscape which is at its best during the Fall Foliage, had a fundamental role as regards the historical, literary and traditional evolution of the whole country.
Concord is the first settlers’ America, the one of the indipendence battles, of free thinking and of the consequent desire for freedom (in its deepest meaning), and which set the path for something extremely grand and amazing, the United States of America.
Concord is a story told across time, with no hurry, across its landscapes, its old buildings and inns, the beautiful verandas with flowers at the windows, the old country cemetery, the little stores along Main Street and its inhabitants who, generation after generation, look after its most precious memories.
Concord is an open book, ready to be left through and to hold the reader’s hand along the most precious characters of America’s literature.
Concord is Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth who everyday relive their adventures from Little Women; Concord is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, it’s Emerson’s deepest thoughts.. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail, it’s Thoreau’s unconditioned love for nature.
It is a place out of space and time, where it is easy to get but from where it is so hard to come away, non without a coming-back promise.
How to get there
Getting to Concord is easy, it’s about 20 miles by car from Boston, driving most of the time along the Massachussetts Route 2 going West. You can also reach it by train with the Fitchburg Line, operating Monday to Friday from Boston North Station (take into consideration that there are some historical sites quite far out from the center and you will need the car anyway to get to those places).
Being so near the capital of Massachussetts makes it possible to go on a one-day trip, even if the ideal would be to stay overnight in town (the best is a road trip itinerary) to get the most of the atmosphere and experience.
What to see
No doubt Concord is a small town, a little more than a village, but even so it includes quite an amount of historical places to visit.
Once you get there, the ideal is to start your visit from the central Monument Square. Next to it is the Visitor Center (with a handy parking lot on the rear), where you can get maps and any further information.
From here the old and picturesque Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Bedford Street is only a few minutes away and you can reach it with a nice little walk.
Here all important personalities of town are buried, included protagonists of the Independence and Secession Wars. The most captivating place, both for its landscape and for the sensations it evokes is Author’s Ridge’s Hill (follow indications East of the cemetery), where some of the most important authors of American literature rest, first among all Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.
Once you have left the cemetery, from Monument Square you can reach Minute Man National Historic Park, with a 30-minute walk (or by car if you prefer) among some of the most beautiful historical buildings in town. This site is the place where April 19th 1775 the battle that started the Independence War took place and it is remembered every year during Patriot’s Day.
The whole park is an historical area of great value and it retraces every step of the battle with indications and original sites.
Not far away is the beautiful Old Manse, home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter and of his wife Sofia.
Towards the end of 1800, Concord became the shelter of writers and persons of letter (no wonder it comes under the top list about what to see in Massachusetts), who were attracted not only by the bucolic landscape and by the place’s history but also by the new and innovative trascendentalist philosophical movement.
Getting about with your car will give you the possibility to visit their beautiful homes and find yourselves inside rooms where real masterpieces were created.
Some of the most unmissable are those of Orchard House (which deserves a story to itself), the house where Louisa May Alcott lived, wrote and located Little Women (you will really feel as if you are inside the book) and the nearby house of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.
You can’t leave Concord without stopping by (more or less 2.5 miles) at Walden Pond, the natural reserve where Henry David Thoreau lived for almost 2 years, living in close contact with nature, in a wooden hut with no water nor electricity.
Where to eat and sleep
The Colonial Inn boasts an outstanding tradition and has a really unique story.
Its central position, right in Monument Square, makes it the ideal place where to stop for lunch (food is delicious and the staff is really kind) or, if it fits with your times and availability, for a night.
This inn, dating back to 1719, had a fundamental role during the Independence War; first of all it was used as warehouse for weapons and then as hospital for injured people.
The entire structure, extremely well-finished, has a fascination of another era and is included among the most “possessed” historical houses of the area.
It seems infact that these “presences” (or ghosts, as you prefer), according to stories told by witnesses of the time when the inn was a hospital, are extremely active in the first floor rooms. The staff will be delighted, upon request, to tell you everything in detail.
Try and stay overnight in the famous room 24 and we’ll talk about this.