We started out by using our train tickets to board the train at the Santa Maria Novella station here in Florence. We were schooled on the fine art of putting our tickets in the machine at the platform by the guard at the train station. Easy!
We boarded our train and took the hour long ride to Lucca.
When we disembarked at Lucca we were greeted by a beautiful day and a view of the city wall. Passing through the wall, we couldn't believe what welcomed us -- the Cathedral, the Campanile, and the Cathedral Museum. We immediately got tickets for all three to visit.
Stepping inside the Cathedral I was taken aback by the beauty of it, but more by the prayerful atmosphere.
I said prayers and lit a candle.
We walked over to the museum -- it is a beautiful museum, well worth the time to go through. It was well organized and held many beautiful items, some of which I will post now with the description following each item:
We next headed over to the Campanile. While the Church (San Giovanni) has been deconsecrated, the Campanile is still a welcomed treat for visitors to Lucca. We climbed the stairs and were treated to a beautiful view. The stairs were metal and tight--about 5 minutes after we started to ascend about 50 Czech High School Students and their teachers came charging up behind us! We were waiting for them to get to the top so we could climb down, but there was no room at the top so we had to make our way down among them -- not an easy task.
We were hungry by then and decided to head out to find lunch. It didn't take long! We stopped at a lovely place where the people were friendly and the food was reasonably priced and good -- Bar Astra:
We decided to go on the Eyewitness Book-suggested walking tour, and were quite happy that we did. We passed by Puccini's birthplace, and in the adjacent Piazza his statue:
We loved walking through more streets -- beautiful!
We ended up looking up to Gigliano's Tower -- with the trees on the top of it from the street -- can you see it in the next picture?
Everyone except Donna was anxious to climb to the top (there is no elevator). We paid for the tickets and started the 220 step climb up. It was a hearty climb, but as we had already climbed up the Campanile a few hours earlier, I felt refreshed and ready to go. It was well worth it!
Here are the Jardine women at the top -- notice the ones who are smiling:
And here is that view:
It was beautiful!
Here's a happy Steve:
And a happy Debber and Mike:
We climbed back down and made our way back to the train station, admiring the streets again:
Here is the horse hitching post -- we saw these in Florence as well -- notice the bicycle isn't attached to it!:
We headed on to Pisa, going back to the train Station. Bye Lucca! I hope to see you again!
Getting off the train in Pisa, we walked almost a mile to get to the leaning tower. I will say upfront that I was glad to have the experience of going to see the leaning tower, but it was truly something I could have missed.
We didn't pay to walk up to the top of the tower (I think that would have put Donna right under the bus) -- plus it was 18 euro! Here are some pictures from the tower and the Duomo:
We walked about 1.5 miles back to the farther train station -- the one to take us back to Florence.
We arrived back tired but grateful for the day.
Dinner was at Il Grotta di Leo: Pizza after Pisa!
I am still reflecting on the day -- beautiful, long, prayerful and prayer-filled. Lucca was by far our favorite outside-of-Florence spot. If I ever have the chance to come back, I may just stay there -- there aren't large crowds, and it is just beautiful.
Steps walked yesterday -- 20,463 -- 7.87 miles.