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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 9
Europe 2007
London, Tuscany, Paris


Day 10
Florence - Lucca

We woke, dressed, packed, had a quick breakfast at the hotel and met up with Eleni. She and Giuseppe own three luxurious apartments very close to the hotel and when she took us around the corner from the hotel to show us one, we were amazed. They have combined old and new in a very tasteful and comfortable way, in much the same way as their gorgeous upper-floor home.


These apartments are situated in buildings built in the 1400s, are truly luxurious and spacious, and are available to rent by the day, week or month. Carol and I were in shock. We somehow totally missed this information, otherwise we certainly would have wanted to rent an apartment. Next time for sure! Eleni must have told us in one of her emails that we could stay in their apartment, but we must have thought the she meant her own home, and naturally we would not have wanted to impose upon their generosity. So we told her that we would prefer to stay at the hotel. Talk about a mix-up in communication. The apartments are reasonably priced and are located in a fantastic location near the Duomo. This is truly a bargain not to be missed. The Hotel Romagna is located at Via Dei Panzani, 4, 50123 Firenze ( FI ), Italy . Phone number is +39 055211005 . Email info@hotelromagna.it.


We said goodbye is to our dear friends, Eleni and Giuseppi. They are very special friends and our stay with them was much too short. We know we'll certainly see them again.


The train pulled slowly out of for Firenze's Santa Maria Novella station and made its way northwest, stopping at several towns along the way. The Tuscan countryside is green, lush and pastoral. The hillsides are dotted with ancient farms, vineyards and monasteries. The pace of life here seems to be from a bygone era. The morning is cool and sunny. The smell of wood fires off in the fields wafts through the train's open windows. It is Fall in Tuscany.


We arrived in sleepy Lucca, home of Giacomo Puccini, at 10:30 a.m. The small city is surrounded by an ancient wall and motorized traffic is forbidden.


Piccolo Hotel Puccini
Our room at Piccolo Hotel Puccini

Our hotel, Piccolo Hotel Puccini, is very nice. The room is small but clean and comfortable. It was built in the 15th century and is very near Puccini's house. After settling in, we walked a few yards to Piazza San Michelle and sat in the shadows of the huge cathedral as we sipped cappuccino at Café Turandot. As might be expected, the memory of Puccini is invoked everywhere.

Lunch in Lucca
St. Michelle

At the café we chatted with a charming couple, Ken and Dorothy, from Manchester, England. Spent a pleasant hour comparing notes on travel and politics.


Ken and Dorothy with Carol

We walked around Lucca for a while, enjoying the lack of motorized traffic and fewer tourists than we had seen in Firenze.

Puccini's home

Lucca is a quaint, quiet medieval town surrounded by Roman walls that are at least 1400 years old.


The ancient walls surrounding Lucca

We rented bicycles and rode the 4.7 km wall around the city, stopping to rest and take photos all along the picturesque tree-lined path. Then we rode into the city and saw many ancient cathedrals, towers and ruins. It is sunny and pleasant - not too warm, not too cool. We stopped at famous Piazza Anfiteatro, the quiet, oval, residential and shop-lined piazza, where we had beer and capellini funghi at 3 p.m.


The only way to travel in Lucca
Carol enjoying Lucca
The only way to travel in Lucca
At the ancient walls around Lucca
At Piazza Anfiteatro
Relaxing at Piazza Anfiteatro

We spent four hours on the bicycles, riding along the ancient walls, gliding through the narrow streets, among the shops and throngs of travelers, lovers and friends. It was worth every euro (€20 for both of us for four hours.) Highly recommended.

Let's go around again
Are we having fun or what...

Back to the hotel at 5:30 for showers and rest.


Out into the quaint, quiet streets and alleys of Lucca at dusk. We made eight o'clock reservations at Vecchia Trattoria Buralli, which had been recommended by our hotel concierge, Paolo. Prior to dinner, we picked a quiet corner café for white wine and people-watching at Piazza San Michelle. At eight o'clock we walked the few blocks to the restaurant. I enjoyed a vegetable antipasto, risotto with porcini mushrooms, and garlic potatoes. Carol savored mild whitefish, which was flaky and delicate.


Memorable dinner at Vecchia Trattoria Buralli

My antipasto included an arugula and Parmesan salad - I have never tasted a salad as delicious.

Incredible arugula salad at Vecchia Trattoria Buralli

Dinner was fantastic and for dessert, our waiter (also named David) brought us a traditional Luccan dish called bucciladda, a buttery bread pudding with either anise or licorice seasoning covered in vanilla gelato. A perfect ending to a wonderful culinary experience. As a thoughtful closing touch, David brought out glasses of limoncello and we toasted to the two Davids.

The Two Davids

As we left the sidewalk restaurant, Carol stopped to schmooze with a large group of rowdy revelers who had reserved a long table and were obviously having a great time. One of the fellows stood up and nearly tore down the tent covering our sidewalk tables. We found out that they were from Norway . They all seem to be enjoying themselves as were we.


Carol and I walked home in the cool, Autumn Tuscan air at 10:30, climbed the stairs and fell into bed after another adventure-filled day.     

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