Monday, 3 October 2016

Lucca, Italy

There is a little place called Lucca, just north of Pisa.

Lucca was our next stop on the trip. When I mentioned this to James at work, he relived his story of when he visited there with his family when he was 11, he had never forgotten how beautiful Lucca was, and still remembers it to this day.

That's gotta be a good sign right?

Sadly it took us AGES to get there. Like, seriously seriously long.

Let's start from the beginning: The train was leaving at 9am. We looked down at the watch. It was now 8.45am. Paolo, our Airbnb host had failed to turn up (he offered to give us a lift) and in the end, we grabbed our bags and pegged it down the hill.

We arrived at the station to find out the train was delayed. Righttttttt. But we still had to catch a connecting train at Viareggio to get to Lucca.

We missed it. 

2 hour delay. Ah well... we found entertainment by staying in the station cafe and said hello to these guys:
Oh and, we also got stuck in the platform elevator. (The only reason we got out was because a elderly italian gent took pity on us and saved us!)

C - was evidently not impressed.

We arrived and took another 30minutes or so to find our AirBnb and the flat number. (The locals were lovely and pointed us to the right direction) Before heading out to grab some antipasti and go for a walk on the city wall.



Snacks acquired.


There were actually four separate walls that were built around the perimeter of Lucca. With the intent of protecting the city from enemy invasion, the first walls were built by the Romans more than 2000 years ago.

We walked along the city walls, taking in the sights and both realising we were beginning to feel like we were on holiday. (I find it really really hard to unwind you see - hm. Maybe I can do a blog post about that?).

One thing I noticed was that there were blooms of jasmine covering the walls of the buildings and people's houses  - the smell was incredible.

When we got back to London I bought a plant, hoping I would get the same effect in our London patio. Er, call it the lack of sun/green fingered abilities, I think it's browning leaves are a sign that this plant might be on it's way out!

Back to Lucca:

The main square...

We spotted that there were a crowd of people taking pictures of a grand house and wondered why no one had bothered to go in. It turns out they were taking pictures of this place: Palazzo Pfanner.


The garden even had a bamboo section where you could wander in.


Palazzo Pfanner.

Afterwards, C told me that his friend had mentioned the Torre Guinigi, the tower with oak trees. The scale up the tower was terrifying. Very steep steps and did I mention I'm afraid of heights? The view though - worth it.

Back on ground level, we decided to have a bit more of a walk through the city before deciding to have a macaron or two.

Laduree (chocolate and pistachio). With some rose, too. (Beer for C).

The laduree counter was inside a cute shop which sold books (I wanted that Helmut Newton)  clothes and homeware. If only I could have brought all of this back with me, but C was side-eyeing me. Sigh.

The best bit of Lucca, is you can rent bikes to ride along the city wall. We said 'Nahhhhh thanks' to the two bikes the rental guy showed us and pointed to the tandem bike. Yes baby. This was our ride:

This sounds silly but it really was the funnest part of the trip as we were trying to outrace and beat other professional cyclists with our clunky old beast watching the sunset over the city wall, and just enjoying the calm serenity that Lucca offered. Although there were tourists, it's nowhere near like it is in Florence where it's just a tad too much. 

But I'll share more of that next time...



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