The drive out to Lucca was much easier than either of us expected, we left the A11 (Autostrada) fairly early on after we realized that it was not very exciting, and had little to offer in terms of scenery. It’s no American highway, but we wanted a few more curves and more towns! Off we went and proceeded to drive through Pistoia, Prato, and a bunch of no-name towns before we came to the walled city of Lucca. We found our B&B Da Elisa very easily and quickly settled in. A trip to our favorite European grocery store PAM was in order, and we stocked up on our favorite lunch items: Salami Milanese, Prosciutto, cheese, and wine. After enjoying lunch along the top of Lucca’s wall, we decided that something had to be done about our laundry situation. Not sure who all knows this but between the two of us we have one carry on each of clothes and toiletry items…this means a lot of re-wearing clothes, hoping you don’t sweat too much, and trusting to good ole febreeze to carry you through the inbetween time. We were very excited to have a whole suitcase full of nice clean (they had a dryer! Yay!) clothes…it really is the simple things in life… We had a nice dinner that evening and decided to check out “Singing with the Trees” which is a *free* (key word there) summer concert series in Lucca held in their botanical gardens. It was quite the relaxing night.
The next day had absolutely gorgeous weather so we rented a couple of bicycles to ride around the perimeter of Lucca’s walls – in our opinion this is a must do activity – it was such a fun way to see the city and, let’s be honest, SO much better than walking! Before we returned our bikes, we ventured outside the walls to pay another visit our favorite grocery store (yay Pam!). Let me just say that all Italians who bicycle everywhere have some serious brass, it was pretty terrifying having to stay up on your bike (okay, maybe that was just me), fight traffic from cars, scooters, and other bicycles all while trying to cross some major roads. After a simple lunch at our B&B we decided to leisurely stroll through Lucca (we have such a hard life, I know) and climb up the famous tower with trees on top. The view was really awesome, and it was super windy – not the best day for a skirt! That night we went out and found a very cool bar to get a Spritz! We were very excited to see them outside of Venice. Of course we got one and were pleasantly surprised to see that ciccheta’s being served as well. Here we quickly realized that we were the only non-Italians…apparently others noticed too because we met a girl from Finland as she came up to us and said “you’re not from here?”. We ended up having a great time hanging out and getting dinner all together. It’s amazing all the different people you meet while traveling and, if you’re in Lucca, how often you run into them after the initial meeting! If it’s a small world, it’s a smaller Lucca!
The next day was our last full day in Lucca and we used it for a day trip out to Viareggio, a little beach town about 20 minutes away. We discovered something interesting (read: slightly annoying) about this beach – it’s all owned by someone. You may think you’ve found a spot of sand that no one cares about – you know, the one right next to all the dead jellyfish and rocks – and as soon as you put your towel down someone runs up saying that so-and-so owns such-and-such, will you please pay to use the sand? Sand. I wondered what they would do if I just brought a floatie raft and set up camp in the ocean…anyhoo, after having this happen a few times we decided to suck it up and pay for a beach chair and umbrella to have the privilege of laying on sand (since it’s so comfortable). Honestly though, this was a great day trip without us having to worry about what sites to see…I know this sounds awful since, you know, the whole damn month is a vacation, but the Italians have a saying “Il dolce farniente” – the sweetness of doing nothing – and we really enjoyed doing just that on the beach! We made it back to Lucca in time to have a quick shower and head out to dinner. We decided to get a take away pizza and end the visit to Lucca the way it started – with a meal on the wall. It was wonderful seeing the sunset and watching locals and tourists alike walk past enjoying the city.
Next we’re off to Siena and hopefully on the way we’ll stop at San Gimignano and do some wine tastings…yum! Oh yea, and we visited PAM two more times for provisions…