In mid Sept., I traveled to Italy with a friend and would like to share a few of the highlights of the trip.
We flew from Charlotte NC, to FCO in Rome. After our AM arrival, we caught the 11:08 train to Florence. There we took a train to Lucca. We based ourselves in Lucca for 10 days in a rental apartment. We have been to Italy several times before so felt like we could just relax without feeling pressure to “see everything”. Our apartment manager met us at the apartment after walking from the train station. We had a 2 bedroom apartment located on the same street as the Guinigi Tower. On arrival in Lucca, the town was busy preparing for the Luminaria di Santa Croce procession that was to take place that evening. Owners were putting up lights over their shops and restaurants. That evening we joined the rest of the town to watch the procession. People line the streets holding candles aloft to light the way, as religious and civil representatives of the area take part. Also some people were dressed in traditional medieval costumes, singing spiritual songs. It was lovely.
Lucca was a good choice for our base. We enjoyed the markets, shopping, plenty of restaurants, museums and churches. I rented a bicycle and rode around the wall. We also went to a Puccini concert in the church of San Giovanni. Each night is a different program with a revolving cast of highly talented soloists performing the music of Puccini and his fellow composers.
We took several day trips by bus or train. (We didn’t want to hassle with a car). One trip was to a lovely medieval town called Pietrasanta. The town is known for it’s marble and bronze workshops, artists, and monuments. Many international artists donated their sculptures to the town, making it an open air museum.
Another day we took a train to Pistoia. It was market day, so that was fun. We sat in a cafe and watched several wedding parties pose for pictures beside the Duomo. We had an excellent lunch at Locanda del Capitano del Popolo. The restaurant interior is filled with old musical instruments and artifacts.
One day, we took a bus to San Giuliano Terme. There is an old luxury hotel called Bagni di Pisa which has natural hot springs. We bought a few hours( which included lunch) to soak in the wonderful mineral waters. Great for tired feet!
We spent our last couple of days in Monterosso. Drank a lot of spritzes, and enjoyed fresh seafood. No hiking these days, just walking around. Stayed at Albergo Degli Amici, which was perfect for us. We filled up our plastic bottles with cheap (but good) wine at a little store and sat on the hotel terrace looking out over the sea. Italy is the best.