Bike Tour Around Lucca and Pisa
Trip Start Jun 03, 2012
11Trip End Jun 14, 2012
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Upon arriving in Lucca (pronounced Luke-a), we met with Carlos, our guide for the day. He is a native Italian from Lucca, and he was avid to begin the day at the bike shop. After choosing our bikes, we began our bike tour on the walls around the city. As odd as it may sound, we rode on the actual walls surrounding Lucca (Lucca was in war with Florence and Pisa in medieval times and these walls acted as secure barriers for the city). The walls are approximately 30 feet high and are built on compacted soil, leaving a concrete slab for biking on top
We then rode the bikes around the actual city of Lucca, passing several other native bikers (many Luccians travel by bike). We passed through the piazzas and restaurant centers and were eventually led to a church in the area. Inside the church, we were able to view a replica of the cross that Jesus was crucified on.
Pisa was a 30-minute drive from Lucca, but it was worth the while. The drive was along the same Tuscan pathway that consisted of cypress trees, open green fields, enormous mountains, and mansions in the distance. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was a worthwhile experience since we were able to snap the tourist, cliche shots around the Leaning Tower. Although the Tower was closed in the 70s due to a dangerous foundation, it was reopened recently after a Japanese architect discovered a weight bearing solution. This was vital to the scummy city because the Tower is Lucca's only source of grand revenue (tourist contributions)
After a 30-minute nap in the hotel, we walked to a local restaurant for dinner. We were served ribollita (a bean, potato vegetable soup), beef tips with vegetables, and flan. The beef was succulent and very tender but concentrated in fat. Delizioso, nonetheless.
It was here that Elena, our 24/7 Casterbridge tour guide, and I discussed the differences between the American and Italian lifestyles. Since she lived in Wisconsin for 20 years and now lives in Bologna, I recognized that she would be a reliable source of information. She stated that living in both countries is completely different. The Italian lifestyle is much more relaxed, whereas the American lifestyle is much more fast-paced. The group and I recognized that too many Americans are focused on achieving financial success and generally define happiness by wealth. Chasing financial success causes many Americans to miss a great amount of what life has to offer. Italians recognize that there's beauty in the small, simple things; they simply enjoy life and its daily occurrences (as do Americans, as well). She admits there have been times where she's been frustrated with services (Italians are very strong willed), but the country's beauty is incomparable (no lie). The Americans focus more on customer service, whereas the Italians serve what they believe is best. For instance, the Italian consumer and Italian university student's opinion is minimized greatly. Elena also mentioned that there is much more opportunity for personal career growth and success in America.
By night, we walked the city of Florence