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Published: June 21st 2017
Florentine view from San Miniato Al Monte
View of Florence from San Miniato Al Monte 10-10-14
Geo: 43.843, 10.508
Today was one of three incredible days that we were lucky enough to share with Alessandro Cammilli, a driver that I found through Trip Advisor.
Unfortunately the day started badly due to the bad behavior of our hotel, who have their own driver tour company. We had arranged by email to meet Ale at 9.30 at our hotel. 9.30 came and went which I thought was odd as Ale had been so professional in responding to any emails and so on. I went to the front desk to enquire if anyone had telephoned or come in looking for us. They responded 'no' and said that being late was typical of Florentine tour drivers. They then suggested that they could provide the same tour for us if we wanted.
Fortunately G decided to go downstairs and have a look around. Lo and behold there was Ale patiently waiting for us. G went to shake his hand and say hello. Ale commented how they had chatted on the phone the night before! We then discovered that Ale had called the hotel the previous evening to organise a meeting place and time. The hotel reception apparently put him through to G. who said
Piazza dei Miracoli
Piazza dei Miracoli Pisa 10-10-14
that we would meet downstairs! Now no-one ever put through a call to us, so all we can assume is that the hotel reception staff made the arrangements and deliberately didn't inform us, presumably so we would use the hotel company instead. We weren't at all impressed and for that reason would never stay at the Davanzati again.
Once we were on our way though, the day improved immensely. Ale started by driving us up to San Miniato al Monte, where we had a brief look at the gorgeous old church and spent time looking at the amazing view of Florence from this vantage point.
After that he enquired if we would be interested in seeing Da Vinci's birthplace. Well, of course we would, so off we went and spent a brief time in the museum and his home before continuing on to Pisa. Ale asked if we wanted him to organise tickets to climb the tower, but we really only wanted to see it.
It is so amazing to see such an iconic structure that we had seen in pictures so often. We probably spent around 30 minutes taking the usual photos of each other holding up the tower and
G Holding Up the Leaning Tower
Gary Holding Up The Leaning Tower of Pisa 10-10-14
of all the beautiful buildings in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
After leaving Pisa we then headed to the walled town of Lucca. Lucca was a gorgeous town. Ale parked at one end and provided us with a map which had most of Lucca's attractions marked. He suggested a walking route for us and explained where he would be waiting. He stressed that we should take our time, and that it was our day. He also suggested a place for lunch – Buca di San Antonio.
We headed for lunch first where we had a sensational meal. It was definitely not a tourist restaurant, we appeared to be the only English speaking people there. Again the weather was nice enough to eat outside. G. had Meat Filled Pasta with Bolognaise Sauce, while I had a Pork Chop with Potatoes and the very best garlicky spinach I have ever eaten. We got to practice our Italian with the waiter before a walking tour of Lucca - interspersed with the usual G shopping - Raybans this time from a cute little Luccan shop.
inally the very best part, Ale our driver had hired bikes for us to cycle the entire circuit of the Lucca city
View of Lucca from City Walls
View from Lucca's City Walls 10-10-14
walls. A totally amazing experience, locals walking their dogs and everyone jogging or riding their bikes with no helmets. Totally different from home and simply wonderful. Thank you so much Ale, it was great fun. We finished our Lucca experience with a delicious gelato before heading back to Florence.
We had asked Ale to recommend a restaurant for us. He recommended Cucina Torcicoda which was very close to Santa Croce where we had been yesterday, and made a reservation on our behalf. We had delicious Italian style burgers and chianti.
Tot: 2.847s; Tpl: 0.022s; cc: 15; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0366s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb