Friday, January 16, 2015


(Sitting on a crowded train to Firenze...and the man next to us keeps his bag on the seat next to him as people walk by looking for a seat... No one does anything--he doesn't acknowledge the walkers and they don't ask him to move it to the floor. These little cultural differences are interesting to travellers! Meanwhile we're about to do something remarkable in that we're going to Florence (Firenze) for only a day! The 2 guidebooks we have consulted offer itineraries for 3, 5 and 7 days, not for one! Seems criminal, in fact we contemplated not going at all, however it's only an hour away by fast train. So we have decided to focus on Michelangelo. We have tickets to see "David" at noon, and will visit nearby sights before and after.)

Yesterday we took the regional train to Lucca, an ancient city whose 16th C fortifications are still intact, forming a lovely green ring around densely packed buildings. We entered the city walls about 200 m from the station 

and turned right, walking along the top of the walk counterclockwise. 

At the 12 o'clock position we came down off the wall and found the Piazza dell Anfiteatro Romano, a plaza completed circled by buildings, built on the original 2nd C Roman amphitheater. 
At one of the entrances:


We wandered almost aimlessly in narrow lanes, enjoying the lack of cars (the only vehicles allowed inside the walls are for residents and deliveries). Most streets are for pedestrians and cyclists only, and there were many people on single speed bicycles with baskets on front for their shopping.

Another thing we enjoyed about touts! No one trying to sell us hats, iPhone cases, scarves, guidebooks, postcards, selfie sticks, umbrellas...

See that tower in the distance with the green on top? 

That's the Terre Guinigi, a medieval tower which has trees growing on top. The guidebook said that the tree roots are visible in the room below but that's not true. That ceiling is very much intact. We climbed up to the top for the view...

Lloyd in a pensive moment:

Here's the Duomo or cathedral in Lucca...such eclectic designs on the front...carved and smooth pillars, some decorated with checkerboards, swirls, and other designs made with marble inlays. Expand this image for a closer look. It looks as though the masons building the tower were conserving their marble blocks...

Lucca is Puccini's birthplace and he is much celebrated here. There are concerts most weekends and a big festival in the summer. This statue of him is in front of his birth home (now a museum but closed when we were there): 

The square was surrounded with cafes, restaurants and bars with names like Bohemian cafe, Bar Tosca, Madama Butterfly Ristorante, etc. Lloyd had just asked me what Puccini had written, and I said I think the answer is all around us! 
This statue of a cellist was in front of a music school:

We returned to Pisa by train, only 20 minutes away, but not very comfortable for Lloyd. He rarely finds seats in trains, buses, and planes big enough!

We arrived back at the hotel in time for a little knitting in the comfy chairs in the lobby, and then supper at a Pakastani kabab cafe around the corner. They also had a variety of hot food, and I enjoyed a very yummy chickpea and egg curry with rice pilau. It was actually a very welcome change from Mediterranean fare. (Lloyd had the meat kabab with chips...) 


  1. Joanne C, ArmstrongJanuary 16, 2015 at 4:06 PM

    We spent a week in Lucca a few years ago, mostly for a respite between busy weeks in Rome and Florence. It was wonderful; all your photos are of sights familiar to us. Denis climbed the tower with the tree on top. Unfortunately when we were in Pisa a few years earlier the campanile was closed for stabilization. I'm not sure that I would brave the rows of vendors that line the route into the cathedral area in order to do the climb, should we return to the area. They were aggressive, and there were rather more aprons and tea towels with photos of the David's torso than good taste could tolerate. Don't miss Michaelangelo's "prisoners" in the Academia gallery leading to the David.

  2. SO enjoying reading about your travels - what a fabulous itinerary.
    I'm sorry to tell you that the bag-on-seat scenario plays out regularly on Vancouver transit, but I'm now shameless about politely asking for removal…