Arrivederci Lucca

It is time to say good bye to Lucca which has been our home base for the week. But before we go, I would like to share a few more points of interest.

Lucca is very centrally located to take in many other sites in Tuscany. Notably we are just one hour from Florence. Since we had visited Florence on a prior trip, we opted for these other memorable sites.

San Gimignano is a beautiful, medieval hilltop village most recognized for it’s 14 tower houses. The town is home to approximately 7800 and many tourists.

While filled with interesting sites and shops, it really is best viewed from a distance where one can take in the tower filled skyline.

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Volterra is a well preserved, walled, hilltop town, widely know for its Alabaster artistic handcrafts mined in the surrounding area.

 

Additionally, we were rewarded with great views ruins of a Roman Theatre from the first century B.C. This site was only excavated in the 1950’s.

Incidentally, Volterra was the location of the home to the Volturi in the Twilight series although I did not see any vampires on our visit.

Pisa gave us quite a treat as we rounded the corner to the field of Miracles and there was the Leaning Tower of Pisa amidst its companion structures, the baptistery and the Duomo (Cathedral).

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The Campanile or bell tower is widely know for it’s unintended tilt. While efforts to improve it’s posture were done in 1990 and 2001, the tower still retain’s a jaunty tilt since the beginning of it’s construction in the 12th century.

 

 

 

 

The Cinque Terre or 5 lands are a group of villages along a rugged coast line. Few roads still serve this area. We elected to use the train from La Spezia, traveling mainly through tunnels carved into the hillsides separatig the villages.

Each of the five villages have there own uniqueness, some with spectacular coast line views and others with small sandy beaches.

All five villages can be reached by train, ferry boat or a walking trail know as the Azure Trail.

 

Back in Lucca, we spent our last evening watching the 1,000 Miglia.

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The Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles) was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947). It was discontinued in 1957 due to 2 fatal car crashes.

Since 1977, the “Mille Miglia” has been reborn for classic and vintage cars. Participation is limited to cars, produced no later than 1957, which had attended (or were registered) to the original race. The route (Brescia-Rome round trip) passed through Lucca Friday night and we were just in the right place at the right time to see this memorable event.

The cars passed along the Lucca city wall and then through the Piazza Anfiteatro where we watched from our favorite restaurant, Parlascio.

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The experience of staying in one place for a week is getting to know the locals. the friendly staff here as well as our local grocer across the way really made us feel at home.

Belissimo Lucca, ti vogliamo bene

Lucca

Currently our “home town”, this sweet walled city is located in Tuscany, central Italy. A perfect location for visiting other sites in this area. Lucca is well known for its intact Renaissance era city walls. Since the times of Julius Caesar, Lucca has been an important hub of activity.

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The inner city of Lucca is almost traffic free, with about 10,000 people living within the walls. It is the perfect place to stroll, sit with an espresso and watch people or take off to visit nearby sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Entering a walled city can be a challenge. The inter city is enclosed in a big circular wall and finding the right port to enter can be a little stressful. You want to be close to parking while making sure you have not entered into a pedestrian only area! It was a good feeling to locate the correct gate and park the car. I am not kidding, this is an “ah ha”, orgasmic moment when you have arrived in the right place without a scratch on car or body. Now, how to find our accommodations.

 

Accommodations
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We found this lovely, two bedroom, two bath apartment on VRBO. Well priced and located, it was almost perfect; almost, except for the 46 very steep stairs to the fourth floor unit. Yes, that is our window at the top!

 

Still we enjoyed the great view of Piazza Anfiteatro from our kitchen window and the comfort and convenience an apartment offers.

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The City

Lucca is not filled with exceptional historical monuments but there is plenty to see. Among the sites are the Duomo di SanMartino, the Guinigi Tower and the birthplace of Puccini.

 

 

Lucca is full of  charm at every turn.

 

A stroll along the small avenues and alleys is an endless source of uniqueness; high fashion shops, art galleries, fab shoe and purses boutiques and the proverbial tourist joints.

Lucca Cuisine
There are lots of options for eating and drinking in Lucca. We are enjoying espresso and a baguette each morning in our apartment while listening to the sounds of the businesses in the Piazza Anfiteatro prepare to open for the new day.

There are many small bakeries, butchers and groceries where we can purchase local foods to snack on in our cozy apartment.

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Lucca has a multitude of restaurant options but we opted for eating in the Piazza where we could get the best view for watching people, enjoy the street performers and get acquainted with a local establishment where the staff treated us exceptionally well. There was probably better food but not a better overall Lucca experience for us. These warm, friendly servers treated us very well allowing us to set at their front row spot on the Piazza Anfiteatro.

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Another Favorite

This wine bar has a great selection of local wines and foods. Motto bene!

Market Day
The city is filled with small shops and larger grocery stores but the “Market Day” is still an interesting experience. Trucks filled with everything you could ever want or need. This is the place the locals shop; often with great frenzied excitement!

Lucca has been a fabulous place for us this week. We felt so at home we decided to do the laundry here. Small town charm with everything a for a traveler to enjoy.

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We are still exploring central Italy for a few more days but for now I leave you with a toast from Bill, enjoying Vin Santo and biscotti.

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Cheers!