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Published: October 6th 2017
I had been in Lucca once before with Mike but this time we entered the city through St. Peter’s gate and saw many different churches and plazas. The city dates back to Roman times and although the original walls are gone now it is still a walled city. The current walls date to the 15th century. No longer used for protection, the city walls provide wonderful walks and bicycle trails. While all the surrounding towns and villages were conquered by Florence, Lucca remained independent until a profligate ruler sold the town to Florence to settle gambling debts. It is a great sense of pride to the locals that the city has never been conquered.
It was early when we arrived and the city had not fully awakened. We strolled through mostly empty streets to the old Roman Theater and that is now a piazza full of shops and restaurants, B&B’s and apartments. Ken, Laura, Joe and I had the very best Margarita Pizza there. Unfortunately, we were on the move and couldn’t stop for a bite. Though the streets are cobbled they are reasonably smooth and easy to walk on. As we explored we watched the town come
alive. The streets inside the wall are forbidden to traffic except for residents and delivery vans. This is another place whee I would like to spend a day or two.
During our free time I found a cafe and had a cappuccino. Another woman from the tour joined me and we chatted for a while. Then we were joined by a young woman who was backbpacking through Italy for three weeks. She started in the Cinque Terra, Joined a group to bicycle around the “boot”, took the train to Florence for a few days, came to Lucca for a day. She was looking for lodging for the night before visiting Sienna for a couple of days, then Milan and home. Her backpack was huge but she was young, mid thirties, and fit and having the time of her life. I suspect this trip was more than just a jaunt as she had a husband and child at home.
Lunch Time. We boarded the bus for a short drive to a restaurant located in the middle of an agribusiness. As we walked down the drive, we smelled a sweet scent, maybe honeysuckle maybe Camilla. What
ever it was it was heavenly. The owner, Gateano, was a charming host explaining his vision for a organic vineyard and olive press. This was going to be my chance to buy Tuscan olive oil but he was out of last years press and getting ready for the fall press.
We sat down to a feast. First, slices of fresh baked Italian bread, one topped with his oil, the second covered with sweet, carmelized onions and the third with oil, tomato and basil.
The second course was pasta, of course then a plate of various salad greens topped with thin sliced loin of pork. Wine and water were on the table and I really liked the white wine. As much as I liked the white I disliked the red. Not sure what the vintner was going for here but to me it was like vinegar.
The final stop on this very long day was to a villa and garden. I would rather had had more time in Lucca. After the feast the last thing I wanted to do was visit villa. It was actually lived in by the family who built it in
the 1800’s. It was interesting but the interior was in need of some TLC or maybe I am just being super critical. While the rest of the group explored the gardens, three of us sat on the veranda overlooking the countryside and relaxed. It was a beautiful spot.
We gathered and boarded the bus for the 45 minute drive to Livorno. It was a long day, nine hours, but lovely.
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