Wednesday, July 1st:
Wednesday morning, I awoke to a very sore jaw, knee, and foot. The swelling was down some on my foot though, so that was good. I enjoyed another fabulous breakfast at my B&B. So far the best breakfasts have been at B&B La Romea in Lucca (although the coffee is from a moka and I prefer coffee made from espresso machine). No big problem though, this gives me a chance to experience the morning bar scene.
I originally planned to climb one of the two towers in Lucca but decided to put that off with my foot situation (from my fall running for a train in Pisa). Instead, after stopping for a caffè macchiato at the beautiful bar on Via Filungo, I decided to rent a bike and ride around the wall.
On my way to the bike rental shop, I first took a peek inside the Basilica di San Frediano. I had a vivid memory of this church from my first visit to Italy in 1999. It was the first time I have ever seen a mummified body on display in a glass shrine.
The bike rental shop was not far from the church. The cost of renting a bike in Lucca is 2.50 euros. You leave your passport with the guy at the bike shop and then pay when you return. I had a wonderful time riding around the wall, stopping many times to take photos along the way. The weather was perfect!
I am not sure how, but at one point I stepped in dog shit. I was wearing my new Nike sneakers. There were many knooks and crannies in the bottom of these sneakers. I tried my best to clean most of it off with a stick but my sneaker still reeked of the smell.
I stumbled upon a fabulous little pizzeria called Bella ‘Mbriana near the bike shop rental after returning my bike. This pizzeria is a serve yourself pizzeria. You order at the counter and then pick up your pizza when it comes out of the brick oven. I ordered a pizza margherita (mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce) adding peppers (peperoni). The pizza was delicious!
After I left the pizzeria, I went to the gelateria recommended by my B&B (something Venata I think). I ordered nocciola and caffè. It was just ok. I think I have been spoiled by Grom.
Dark clouds started moving in soon after I left the gelateria. I made it back to my B&B just before it started to rain. It took me quite a bit of time to get the smell and remnants of the dog doo doo out of the little crevices in my sneaker. Once done cleaning my sneaker, I did some laundry and then took a much needed afternoon nap while it rained outside.
I decided on trying Ristorante da Francesco for dinner. I was a bit disappointed with this restaurant. I ordered ravioli with a tomato sauce. I think I was spoiled with the wonderful food I have been eating at Trattoria da “Leo”.
Thursday, July 2nd:
There are many towers in Lucca, and two that can be climbed. In 1999, during my first visit to Lucca, I climbed my very first tower ever – the Torre Guinigi. This tower I believe is the only tower with trees growing on the top.
My B&B was located between the two towers available to climb and they were not too far away from each. Even though my foot was still pretty sore, the towers were calling my name. I figured I would climb one tower on Thursday and one on Friday and decided to climb the Torre delle Ore on Thursday.
The Torre delle Ore is a clock and bell tower. It is the tallest tower in the city. There are 207 wooden step to the top of this tower. The bells ring every 15 minutes, although the time was always off when the bells rang while I was there. When I heard the bells ring, at first I thought there was something wrong with my watch, but then another person mentioned how the bells always rang at strange times.
There is a little doorway at the bottom of the tower that is open during the day. There are also two flags hanging outside the tower when it is open (I guess so people can find the tower). A girl was selling tickets at the bottom of the tower. She told me that if I planned to climb both towers, I could buy a cumulative ticket which was cheaper. She wasn’t positive, but thought I needed to climb both during the same day with this ticket.
I asked her how many steps there were for each tower. She told me the number for each and said that although the Torre Guinigi (tower with the Oak trees at the top) is shorter in height, it has more steps because the Torre delle Ore is much more narrow tower. I am a sap for towers with or without a sore foot and could not pass up this deal.
I bought the cumulative ticket and headed up the Torre delle Ore. The steps of this tower were old and a few freaked me out a little as they creaked and looked like they could snap. I was glad some little kid was not up there jumping on all of the steps. At one point during the climb up, pigeons flew out of little crevices and I screamed (imagine a mellow version of The Birds). There was also lots of pigeon droppings and feathers everywhere. I didn’t take many photos during this climb. I wanted to get to the top as quick as I could.
I have to say that the climbing this tower was one of my least favorite climbs I have done in Italy. The views at the top however were spectacular!
Just as I was about to take a photo, the bells started ringing. I jumped! I immediately set my camera to video to record the bells ringing but didn’t get much video as they stopped ringing right after I started videoing them. They don’t ring very long. I was all alone during my climb up, time at the top, and climb down. Before getting around to adding photos to this post, I did another blog post with photos and a video of the bells of the Torre delle Ore.
After climbing the Torre delle Ore, I figured what the heck, I might as well head straight to the second tower since it was such a beautiful day.
The Torre Guinigi is a much easier climb, even though there are 230 steps to this climb. The first half of the stairs are inside a building. Along the way, there are illustrations on the walls showing some of the history of Lucca. After reaching the top floor of the building, there is a door that is open with metal stairs. It still was a pretty easy climb although at least a little more “towerish” as climbs go.
There were many people climbing this tower and it was quite crowded at the top. There were even a few workers at the top working on the soil (I was told the trees are sick). The views are also wonderful at the top of this tower.
When comparing the two towers, I would say that the views were just as good at the top of both towers, the Torre Guinigi climb was nicer (no creaking stairs and birds flying out at you) and it is very cool seeing trees at the top of this tower, but I preferred the peacefulness at the top of the Torre delle Ore.
Two towers in one day! Very cool, since I love to climb towers! My foot was super sore at this point. I stopped at a pasticceria near my B&B (and also near the Torre Guinigi) for a caffé macchiato and a sweet rice filled pastry.
I had such a wonderful time riding around the wall the day before and was not able to do much else with my foot hurting so I decided to gather up some food for a picnic lunch and rent a bike again. I stopped in the little supermercato nearby to buy some fruit and yogurt for lunch. I also stopped in a little shop selling fabulous panzanella (bread salad) and some sort of chicken salad (bought a little bit of each) and then went to one of the bike rental shops. I ate my delicious lunch on the wall and then rode around the wall for a bit.
After returning my bike, I wandered through a different area of Lucca that I had not been to yet and checked out the big stage being set up for the summer concerts that I was missing by one night.
By the time I finally returned to my B&B, I was exhausted. I hung out there for a while and then headed back out for dinner. On the way, I stumbled onto some sort of antique car parade.
I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Prosciutto e Melone, a restaurant located just outside of one of the openings of the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. I ordered Caprese con bufala campana in millefoglie con pesto di basilico (a sort of caprese salad with crunchy bread and basil sauce) and Spaghetti allo scoglio (spaghetti with seafood). Both were fabulous.
A rock band was playing in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. I stopped to watch the band for a few minutes but did not stay long as it was starting to sprinkle out and it was chilly (for me) so I headed back to my B&B and crashed.
Great day! Long day!
Hope all is well with everyone! Ciao!!
Next up – Friday & Saturday in Lucca