Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
Oct. 13, 2010
Pia’s son inlaw, Fulvio, came to pick us up at 8am to take us to Lucca. He’s giving blood there, so he offered to show us around after he was done.
Now I thought San Gimignano was fascinating, but I absolutely fell in love with Lucca! The city where Puccini once resided (the famous composer of Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and an unbelievable amount of others), this “old city” is surrounded by a two and a half mile long fortress wall and moat built over 800 years ago. It’s a mix of its original medieval buildings and structures, accented with modern touches: ancient cobble-stone roads, stone buildings, towers, cathedrals, and town-squares, highlighted by modern doors, windows, lights, etc…
Another unique feature of the inner walled city is that there are no sidewalks as pedestrians and cars share the same road with a mutual respect for each other’s space. We took longer than expected exploring and looking around, but you can’t blame us -the city was incredible and there was so much to see and take in!
There was the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro -an oval plaza resembling a Roman Amphitheater surrounded by medieval homes, cafes, and a market.
We climbed to the rooftop of Guinigi Tower, one of the few remaining towers in the city, built in the 1300’s and easily recognizable by its oak trees and hanging garden at the top. We took a walk around one section of the top of the fortress wall, enjoyed ourselves exploring around, and I began my hunt to bring back a souvenir for my mother and brother (a tradition I have whenever I travel).
Before we left, I couldn’t resist buying some biscotti for the office back home. On the way back to the car, I seriously wondered how would it be to live here. Although I would miss New York, I think I would definitely enjoy it.
From Lucca, Fulvio drove us to Pisa to see the famed leaning tower. After seeing Florence, San Gimignano, Lucca, Villa Basilica, Pisa didn’t appeal to me, but it might have been because we didn’t have much time to look around except for the main attraction itself -the leaning tower.
I actually got to go to the top and it just felt very strange going up those steps. The best way to describe is –it was like a fun-house! While going up the spiral marble stairwell, you’re leaning one way, then straightening out, then wind up leaning the other way. So weird and fun.
Adjacent to the leaning tower were the Baptism-house, the Cathedral, and Camposanto, all on the confines of the grassy Piazza, surrounded by a medieval fortress wall (I think I’m starting to see a trend). And like all else in Tuscany, they were amazing.
On the way out, feeling a little stressed at this point to find something for my mother and brother since I only have a few more days left, I did some shopping. A little relieved, I finally found something for my mother (a gold and brown pendant made by a local artist).
Fulvio drove us back to his home at Villa Basilica for a special dinner. He and his wife Cristina (my wife’s cousin, and Pia’s daughter) made fresh brick-oven pizzas for us – 8 different varieties! It was a big event, as usual for special Italian dinners, with about 15 people in a large hut he built himself in his back-yard. A lot of food, drinks, stories, laughter, and tons of fun.