Day 47

Trip Start May 08, 2008
Trip End Jul 08, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This morning we got to breakfast at 8, and it was made up of a selection of rolls, croissants, cereal, prosciutto (ham slices), salami, formaggio, cafe, juice and water. We headed down to the car rental place at around 10 and picked up our car. It is a stunning piece of machinery. Dad is going to be at the wheel for this trip, and he needed to get used to the manual transmission for a little bit, but he got the hang of it. We headed off in the direction that the car rental lady (first pretty woman I've seen in this town) gave us, then followed the signs to Lucca. Mom had this book with a route that would take us around the mountains near Lucca, and it looked like a blast. The best parts, said the book, were when you got lost along the way. Perfect for our track record.
It was incredible. We took the wrong turn one time, and took it to where there was a sign barring any vehicles. The view from up there was enough to make me suggest it to anyone. We only got out of the car to take pictures, once of the mountains in the distance, and another time in front of this footbridge that had a shape I've never seen before. Huge nerd, I know. After that came Lucca.
We got into the town, and parked in this sweet spot behind a church. I noticed how all of the cars had a sticker with an A on it that said Lucca community, and found out from a store owner that only the citizens could park inside the city walls. We took the car outside of the walls, and it only took us a short while before we found a spot. We walked in, walked around for a long time, then finally found the Chiesa San Michelle (Saint Michael's church). From there, I knew the city relatively well, so we sat down for a panino to talk about what we wanted to do and see. We figured that a bike tour would be the best way to see the city quickly, so we went to the same place I rented bikes from before.
After a pleasant ride around the city on the wall, we headed into the city and I showed them around a little. I took them to the main church where the black Jesus that was used at the ceremony with the Pope to bless the crusaders before they headed to Jerusalem. After that, we headed back to the bike shop and, more importantly, the gelato shop that is right across the street. We walked to the city piazza, the oval shaped one that used to be an amphitheater, and then headed to the car. Luckily, we found out on our way there, we had parked in one of the very few places that were free to visitors. The way home, we were not so lucky.
The first place we stopped was the Garzoni garden, which was gorgeous. It also contained the first good looking girl that was my age; come on now, give me some understanding. I am coming from my girlfriend, to six weeks in Florence, to this. It can only go up from here where I'm checking out the ticket girls and the car-rental clerks, right?
After the garden, it got real ugly real fast. We headed the way the signs told us, but there are a few key intersections in between street signs that do not have any instructions. These intersections turn out to be the places where we should have turned. The maps were also very little help; they showed the major arteries of the country like the Autostrade, and this was not near to us. It took a miracle, a little patience, and a lot of U-turns to get us on the right path, but we did make it back for supper. The matre dei made me an omelet for the second piatti in place of the fish that was to be served just because I told him that I didn't like fish all that much. I am not used to this, but I could get there.
After dinner, my dad and I had our cigars from Lucca. They were handmade in the town, pretty inexpensive, sweet looking, and we couldn't find a tobacco store that looked to have Cubans. We will have a Cuban together before we leave. You understand my angst to have one with my pops if you know my pops and his normally anti behavior towards drinking and smoking. Along with the cigars, we had some limoncello to drink; lemon juice that is thicker and has a pretty high alcohol content. Good stuff. We smoked and only got up from our conversation about "life lessons" to see the replay of the goals in the Germany-Turkey game. It was a great end to a great day.
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