Ok, so I’ve been back in the U.S. for a few weeks now, and my blog is in serious need of some attention. I only wrote about the first half of my trip before a mix of total relaxation, poor wifi, and a head cold all got the best of me and my writing mojo.
Picking up where I left off… Today I put mom on a train to Zurich, where tomorrow she will fly home. I now find myself alone, with two days to myself in Italy. Oh the possibilities!
After scouring a map to see what was in reach of a day trip, I noticed the town of Pisa to be an easy train ride away. From there, it was also an easy 30 minutes to the old town of Lucca, which a women on the train from Switzerland had raved about to me.
So off to Pisa I went! When I arrived I walked and wove my way through the city streets, passing an outdoor market, and crossing a bridge lined with beautiful old buildings. The tower was on the opposite side of the city, so I was able to get to see a bit of Pisa as I made my way there. After coming from quaint and quiet little Levanto, Pisa felt very big and bustling, which made sense since Pisa has a population of ~89,000 vs. Levanto’s 6,000.
After wandering through the street you pop out near a gate that opens up to a big, beautiful, green lawn with three bright white buildings on it. I didn’t go inside them, or up the tower, but admired the architecture from outside and I’m happy to report that The Leaning Tower of Pisa is still leaning!
After checking the tower off my ‘to-see’ list, I headed straight out of Pisa, and hopped the train to Lucca. Looking it up just now, I see that Lucca has a population of 87,000, which I NEVER would have guessed. For some reason, Pisa felt so much bigger, while Lucca seemed more mellow and quaint, somehow retained a small city feel.
Lucca is best know for two things: Puccini, and ramparts. Lucca happens to be the birthplace of the operatic composer Giacomo Puccini (December 1858 – November 1924), and a Puccini festival is still held every year in a nearby town. Then there are the Renaissance-era ramparts (walls), that surround the entire city. Originally, built as military defense, the walls remained intact and cared for even as Lucca grew and modernized. The walls now create a beautiful pedestrian promenade, with little grassy parks and benches to relax in and a nice wide path that gets a lot of used by the locals.
My guide book said it was a ‘must do’ to rent a bike and ride up on the ramparts, so I did just that! It’s not exactly an extreme workout since you can bike the entire circle in 15-20 minutes, but it gave a unique view of the city. I loved the organized chaos of biking with the locals and navigating between couples out of a walk, children in uniforms just out from school, and dogs and small children who kept the ride interesting with their inability to walk in a straight line.
After doing several loops of the city and taking a break in one of the little parks, I rode back into the city, returned my bike and sat down with a gelato to people watch. After that I made my way back to the train station and home to little Levanto.