A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Lucca

Exploring the Walled City

sunny 26 °C

How lucky were we to have a two week Love Home Swap in Lucca, which is in Tuscany, Italy. We hadn't done any research on Lucca, just knew it was in Tuscany and who wouldn't want to spend time in this area. It was a nice surprise to find that Lucca was a completely walled city. We went off exploring this beautiful city. We found a good car parking place near the railway station that was easy to get into. Most parking in the city requires a permit. We enjoyed the walk in over the grassed area, check the stream for trout, yes they were there, then a walk up through the cobbled tunnel then through another tunnel before getting to the city. We soon found the main street that was full of small shops under apartments. Once we had our bearings it was off to explore. We found a cafe that was good for WiFi. You could spend ages here they didn't seem to mind. Lucky I couldn't take much more weight as had to stay under the 23ks as there was lots of tempting things in the shops. We soon found a central square with Duomo did San Martino (The large Cathedral). Here we found the orchestra playing so stopped for awhile to listen. Lucca was founded by the Etroscans and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical Centre preserves the Roman street plan. Traces of the ampetheatrecan still be seen in the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. Julius Caesar has attended a conference here in 56 BC. On Saturday we discovered the markets so spent some time wandering around these. We also discovered the ampetheatre area where we had dinner and met a nice couple from Australia, she was French and he was from Maritious. They were watching the Australian rugby team at the world cup on their ipad. A lot of restaurants in Lucca had WiFi. They were in the next restaurants so we were comparing who had the best meal. We loved this Amphitheater area with all the restaurans, you would watch the tourists walk in and go wow. In this city there was a surprise around every corner. We loved Lucca. Some of the drivers in Lucca were a bit crazy. Lots of honking of horns and people in such a hurry to go places. They tailgate and pass in crazy places. If you are going the legal limit they still pass. You also have to watch for motor bikes that appear from nowhere. Also in Italy the only people wearing bike helmets seem to be those more competitive cyclists in lycra. There are lots of cyclists on the roads even late at night, sometimes they had no lighting on their bikes. The road toll must be very high. We saw an article from a newspaper with photos of a young couple and their baby near a cross roads stuck on a sign. It looks like they had died there a month before. One evening heading for groceries we had to pause for traffic, while doing this we allowed 2 cars to come out of a siďe road, this was interesting when we stopped at lights a lady put her head out the window and started screaming at us, apparentry being kind to other motorists were against her rules. I must admit I gave her the fingers and swore back at her. Road rage around this place must happen often. day returning to the city saw a barrier we passed earlier all beaten in. A lot of the shops closed in the middle of the day for siesta, but these same shops opened quite late at night.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 01:46 Archived in Italy Tagged exploring Comments (0)

London to Pisa, Pisa to Lucca, Italy

Off to Tuscany for Love Home Swap number eight

sunny 24 °C

It was up early to catch our very early taxi to Heathrow Airport. We got delivered to our terminal and soon found our check in counter. We flew British Airways. We were very impressed with this large airport. Lots of people dealing with checking in, no problems, then straight through to the scanners still no queue, just straight into the reception area. It was a good flight to Pisa, though a bit like a roller coaster in places. We landed in Pisa Airport, a smallish airport. We thought it would be a long way to take a taxi from Pisa to Lucca so decided to take the train instead. There was a well marked trail from the airport to the place to catch the shuttle to get to the station. After getting off the shuttle found we were on the other side of the rail lines as well as steps there was a lift to get across, then just a matter of working out where to get back up. We managed to get a ticket. It is amazing how helpful people can be when you are travelling. If you buy a train ticket at Lucca or Pisa be sure to validate it in the machine or you get fined apparently. Validating it meant putting it in a special machine that clipped it. The train was old, we managed to find a seat for us and one for our bags. We weren't worried about putting our bags on the seats with the train being so old. The train stopped at about three stops and took around 25 minutes. We had quite a long wait at Lucca Station, waiting for Christina to pick us up. Christina is a house manager and manages Roberta's villa in Lucca. She also does cooking lessons in her home for tourists. This day she had two lots of cooking classes in her home. We had to wait till 4.30 pm when she was going to leave one of her classes to pick us up and take us to the villa. She was not happy with us just catching a taxi there. I guess she was getting paid for this service. First we went to the station coffee shop and had something to eat and a coffee to pass the time. At least they had WiFi connection. Went to the toilet and it was there one and only toilette that's funny I just typed toilet in Italian. This was a squat toilet it always takes one by surprise when you are not used to them. After being here for quite some time we spotted another Cafe, Bar across the street so decided to go and have a wine. It is hard to overstay in these places as some people sitting at the tables playing cards. Finally Christina arrived in her little car, it was a tight squeeze to fit the suitcases and ourselves in the car. On our drive we were delighted to find that Lucca is a completely walled city. Christina took us past the supermarket then on to the villa. A tight squeeze in the car past some buildings to get to the back of the villa. This villa was large. Lots of bedrooms and dining areas. There was room for many but there were just the two of us. The walls of the villa which was built in 1600 were really thick so it was nice and cool inside. This villa along with the attached villas were a former nunnery. There is a passage underground under the villas which the priests would walk along. You realise that you are in a predominately catholic country when you see that a lot of the homes have a shrine and the area where we were had a major shrine as you drove in. Also when you pick up the paper there are photos of the pope. Soon it was back to driving on the right hand side of the road in Roberta's car, this car had lots of scratches down the sides and off to the super market for supplies. It takes forever the first time finding things and checking out things you have never seen before and getting tempted by the local delicacies.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 01:36 Archived in Italy Tagged travelling Comments (0)

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