Sunday, May 8, 2016

Falling in Love with Lucca (oh, and a stop in Pisa)

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We arranged for a day trip from Florence to see the leaning tower of Pisa on Monday April 18th and they suggested also going to Lucca. I don't think I had ever really even heard of Lucca but during our email conversations when bike riding around Lucca was mentioned I was sold...who doesn't want to bike ride around an Italian town :-)?! Our guide Maffi (with Red Cup Tours), picked us up at our hotel that morning and we were off. After dealing with public transportation for all our other destinations leading up to this point it was SOOO nice to not have to worry about a thing this time around! It was just us, she took us anywhere we wanted to go, informed us of the history of the area and then dropped us back off at our hotel. Money well spent for sure.
On the drive to Lucca we got to know more about Florence and that area of Italy, and then as we got closer to Lucca, about Lucca itself. We drove through the old wall that surrounded the city. I love all the old walls and this one is completely intact!
Once inside we rented bikes and set out biking around the wall. You went up a little ramp and then the path was around the top part of the wall so you could look down on the town inside the wall and also stop and look over and outside the wall as well. Lucca overall was much less touristy and it was so charming. We absolutely fell in love with this city! There were little playgrounds, cute buildings, locals out jogging, etc. We talked about moving there and just jogging and biking around the wall all day in between meals so we could keep eating all the yummy food and gelato we wanted ;-).
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Our next stop was the Bascilica of San Frediano. For the most part it was just another big church, but there is a neat story about Saint Zita that made this church memorable because her mummified body is in the church on display. You can read more about it HERE.
(that's Maffi down in the corner on the right :-)
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We enjoyed walking around the city, eating gelato, stopping for lunch at a yummy restaurant our guide recommended, Osteria Baralla, and then exploring some more before meeting back up with Maafi. We found out there is a big music festival in Lucca every summer that gets some major acts coming through and we decided we MUST attend this one year!
(Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is where a Roman ampitheater once was and there are some remains still visible)
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Then it was on to Pisa! The only thing we wanted to do in Pisa was see the leaning tower. And neither of us really even cared about the tower that much except we felt like if we were in Italy and so close to it that we really should do it. I'm glad we hadn't had a stressful day trying to get there, or planned much else around this part of the day, because it was crowded and a little anticlimactic. The tower is magnificent yes and I am glad we went and climbed it and took ridiculous pictures by it :-), but I'm also glad that if we go back to Italy we can skip it now. I didn't realize it was in the middle of a city so that was a surprise. I also didn't realize it is right next to a cathedral and baptistery. All three buildings are gorgeous. Maffi dropped us off right by the tower, we walked around the grounds, climbed the tower, walked through the cathedral and we were good!
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Ok, we had to take at least one of these ridiculous pictures, right?! Well, I had no idea there was talent required in taking them haha! Mike did awesome with mine and then I had no clue what I was doing! I didn't bend down low enough and then was laughing so hard at the one we got that we gave up on it. I still die laughing when I see his little head barely leaning on the bottom of the tower!!! So worth it ;-)!
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Super fun to watch other people take their silly pictures too!
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It was a fun day and it was nice to still have a few hours left in Florence when we got back (and I also loved that she drove us up to the lookout point in Florence so we could see the whole city from above).

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