Pisa & Lucca

Trip Start Sep 10, 2008
Trip End Sep 21, 2008

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Flag of Italy  ,
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I know I've said this before, but this was my favorite day in Italy.

Today I decided to tour without "the group" ... just me and my new friend Mark exploring without the time limits and other nuisances that traveling with 35 other people tend to have.

The plan was to catch the 10:30 train to Pisa, take the famous picture that everyone who's been to Pisa has, then off to Lucca for the rest of the day. The only problem was, there was no 10:30 train to Pisa.  There wasn't a train to Lucca, either, at least not for a couple of hours.  The bus schedule wasn't very enticing either, so we decided to hire a cab.  Since Lucca was closer, that's where we ended up, $60EU later. 
OMG I so loved Lucca!

This midievil labyrinth of a town is completely surrounded by a massive wall - like, I don't know, 60 feet wide?  Somewhere along the way they paved the top of it, planted some trees, and now it is the most picturesque running trail I have ever seen.  The "thing to do" in Lucca is bicycle, so the first thing we did was rent a couple of bikes and headed for the wall.  We rode the 1km loop around the city stopping to take pics from time to time.  It was truly breathtaking. 

After we rode the entire wall, we headed into town (still on our bikes) and did a little shopping (I bought a fabulous bag here), ate lunch in a little alleyway restaurant that couldn't be any more quaint if it tried, climbed Torre Delle Ore (a 130 foot bell tower), despite my debilitating fear of heights (poor Mark climbed it a second time to retrieve the bag I left up there),  and got lost over and over again trying to find the center of town.  I could have stayed here cruising around Lucca for a week, easy.  Sadly, we had to leave in just a few short hours if we were going to get our Pisa photo and make it back to the hotel in time for dinner, so off to the train station we went.

But we found the bus station first.

Our bus ride took us through the back streets between Lucca and Pisa where I'm fairly certain no tourist has ever been before.  It was fun and interesting and a little scary all at the same time to be in the middle of it all.  One person spoke a little broken English and let us know at which stop to get off for the Tower of Pisa (thank God, otherwise we would have NEVER known to stop where we did).  We stepped off the bus and looked around - to one side was a stone wall, to the other was a street, so down the street we started walking.  For whatever reason I turned around, and peaking its head up from above the wall was the tower we were looking for - a gigantic freaking tower - and we laughed till we almost peed our pants that we missed it and were going in the complete opposite direction.  You're probably barely chuckling right now ... I guess you had to be there.

ANYway - Pisa is apparently a walled city too - and I tell you what, it is amazing.  The architecture in this place was IN-credible.  Unfortunately we didn't have much time left in our day so we weren't able to do more than take photos of ourselves "holding up" the tower.  That was our goal though, so mission accomplished!

The train station was about a half an hour walk away - outside the walls - and I was drooling as we passed one high-end store after another.  I'd heard Pisa was one of the top ten tourist traps in the world,   I think I'm going to have to get trapped again sometime so that I can enjoy everything it has to offer.

We got back to Montecatini right at 7, which was when dinner was scheduled.  Mark sprinted to the restaurant  and I went back to my room.  My days of hanging with a group of 35 were over.  The taxi will be picking me up at 7am tomorrow for my flight back to the states and I want a good night's sleep.

I'm sad to be leaving this place and am already thinking of when and with whom I'll return.  If you're interested, let me know!
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