Lucca to Chianti
Trip Start Apr 30, 2012
30Trip End May 29, 2012
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Where I stayed
Lucca worked out very well for us and is a big contrast to Venice and Florence. We got to experience a very different pace of life and enjoyed walking the streets without any destinations or sightseeing goals. It is a charming old city that seems loved by anyone who visits. At 7AM I rode a bike around the city walls one more time to see if there were any great photos at that light. I had already missed sunrise by an hour, but it was very nice to get one more panoramic look at Lucca.
Our apartment in Lucca was very nice. The owners had done a recent renovation and it had a very chic and clean style. Kaela loved the couch that transforms in multiple variations and we all thought the bathroom was the best we had experienced on this trip! The kitchen, although small, had an induction cook top. I was very excited to use induction heating for the first time. It is really fast and energy efficient, but does not have the magical or artistic feel of flame.
We had a bit of a walk with our luggage out of the city center to where our car was parked. We decided to take the scenic drive to San Gimignano where we planned to stop for lunch. Gradually the countryside shifted from an unattractive suburb landscape to quaint countryside. Then suddenly we were out in the middle of the picture perfect Tuscan countryside with stone houses, vineyards, olive trees, rolling hills, and Cyprus trees. Yeah!, this is something I have longed to see.
This hilltop medieval town is very famous for its skyline of towers. It's also known as a big stop for tour buses and can be packed in the summer. But it was on route to our next destination and a place we wanted to see. Parking was not too hard and we took a shuttle bus to the town center. This is a picture perfect medieval town. In fact it feels a little bit like Walt Disney created it. There are even toy swords and armor in the gift shops as you walk past the gates. But this is the real deal and it was fun to wander the old streets. We found the main piazza and I took a quick look at the amazing frescoes at the Basilica in the center of town. We also wandered up to the remnants of the old castle where we got great views of the town and the surrounding country. By then it started to rain and we got back to the car as fast as we could.
We then headed east to Radda where we passed many beautiful views of fields, vineyards, and orchards. The rain prevented too many pictures. From Radda we entered the Chianti forests and found ourselves on miles of winding roads. Soon we were on miles of winding unpaved roads and scarcely saw a house. At 5PM we arrived at our next destination: Cacule.
For the next week we will stay at a house called Cucule deep in the Chianti countryside. The owners renovated this house over 10 years and it is beautiful. It sits on a hill with views of the valley and surrounding hilltops. Patios with flowers and lots of places to lounge surround the house. Just below the house is a pool and more sitting areas. We picked this house because its owners have so lovingly put it together and we imagined eating outside for every meal under the beautiful Tuscan sun. Sadly, we arrived in the pouring rain and the promise of more rain in the next few days. Because of the unseasonably cold weather, the pool is frigid. But that did not stop Kaela and I from a near arctic dip. We are hoping for sun soon!!
Sometimes I write my blog posts a day late. We have just learned of an earthquake this morning in the area of Bologna. It turns out that the center of the earthquake was very near to the castle of Galeazza where we recently stayed. This is terrible news. The castle is already crumbling and the damage could be substantial. The castle website merely states that they will be closed for the time being so that structural assessment can be made. We hope that everyone is all right and that somehow this magical place can reopen.