The stop, or more correctly "parking" (since it took so long), of our ship was in Livorno. By the way, many cruise ships go there. Our ship was in port for two days! It was a very long stop that is apparently for people to have time to go to Florence for an overnight stay. On the one hand, it is good for those who have never been to Florence because you can look at the most interesting things there without rushing, and you can slowly walk around the city in the evening. On the other hand, there is not much to see for those who have traveled throughout Tuscany, and the trip will most likely be riddles with tourists. Tuscany, a region in Italy, is usually the number one stop for tourists, would you agree? However, it could have been our experience since we visited Tuscany first.
So we were not sure where to go and where to spend the bulk of our time.
The easiest way to get around would be to rent a car and travel around the small towns and villages . They are just wonderful in Tuscany, and there were a lot of them. BUT! Pay attention to this when booking a cruise - in such a place like Livorno, you need to rent a car in advance! Many cruise ships stop there and it is very difficult to rent a car when the ship docks.
Since there was nothing to do here, for the sake of it (and for the adventure), we decided to use public transport and we visited Lucca one more time. Although we liked this city, it was time to go somewhere else.
But in the end, we concluded that public transport was not for us :( Oh well . . . . For some reason, we did not have any luck using the trains that day. Although, it was quite a typical day, a Thursday, and it was still early in the day; the best time to go is sometime around 10 a.m. Alas, to get to Lucca by train, we would have to transfer in
, but we also had to wait for the next train to Lucca for almost an hour! After such a rough day and long wait, I did not want to go to Pisa at all . . . but we eventually made it.
We had been to Pisa more times than I can count, mainly because of the airport; I never liked the city itself, for some reason. On the one hand, it is quite a beautiful and unique place, especially the
, but there were so MANY tourists :( And the rest of the city, unfortunately, never seemed interesting or nice, personally. To be honest, I did not have a valid reason for these feelings. It just seemed like any other city, complete with different and beautiful historic buildings and squares . . . Perhaps, the reason was we often visited Pisa without the strong desire to go, like this trip. But I'll talk to you about Pisa a little later...
And in Lucca, as always, we had a great time.
It is a small and rather quiet city. Either that or we were extremely lucky and came on a day where there were little to no tourists and only a few locals taking a stroll. This is not Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa!!!
There are ancient city walls around the Old Town, with a length of 2.5 miles (4 km), and the walk leads you around a complete circle. It is easy to travel on bikes, or simply by foot. There was also plenty of shade from the trees, so sitting on the benches during the hot day was very pleasant.
These walls are not that old; they were constructed between the 16th and 17th centuries. However, Lucca is an ancient city and the walls have been there since Roman times (180 BC). There are little to no remains of the walls; you can see a part of the wall in one of the local churches.
In fact, the presence of such a huge fortress wall (the whole old part of the city is located behind it) is understandable. The city was situated at a crossroads, more specifically, on the road of pilgrims on the way from England to Rome and Santiago de Compostela.
From time to time, the walls were improved and reconstructed. Their current appearance came about in the 1600s, complete with remains of other ancient walls.
Currently, the city wall has 6 gates.
(churches) inside the city, in almost the same style as in Pisa, but with different porticos, columns, etc.
This is a part of Chiesa di San Michele in Foro.
The intricate name "in Foro" ("in Forum") means that, although the construction of the church began in the 8th century, it was built on the existing Roman Forum (or rather - on its base).
The square in front of the church existed during ancient times, the only difference back then (more than 2,000 years ago) is that free Romans used to walk here. Today, we see local Italians and tourists, who spend a lot of time here.
The square was very comfortable, and there were a lot of different cafes. We went to one of them and spent about two hours enjoying a glass of wine :)
Guerrillas also took post here . . .
I wonder, what they are doing at the moment? Still fighting against the fascists?
Here is a photo from Pisa.
We went further...
Here's one of the attractions - Duomo di San Martino. It's construction began in the 6th century, but the facade belongs, mainly, to the 12th century. The decorated facade is very typical for Lucca - the same columns, as in the previous Church.
You can go inside, there were many interesting things, but we did not go this time. However, remembering my trip here last time, I really like the inside of the church. You are not allowed to take pictures there, but here's what you can see:
- tombstones by Matteo Civitali (15th century)
- "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saint" by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1479)
- "The Last Supper" by Tintoretto (mid 16th century)
- "The Adoration of the Magi" by Federico Zuccaro (16th - 17th century)
- a painting by Fra Bartolomeo (1509)
Lucca, as well as Elba, is connected with Napoleon. His sister Elisa used to rule here.
There is a monument of her on one of the main squares.