Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arrival in Lucca, Italy

My adventure to Italy began with a very looooong plane ride from Palm Springs to Milan. While in one of the airports (I believe it was Atlanta), I observed a fantastic display of found-object masks. One of the pleasures of traveling is being able to see so many wonderful art exhibits in the airports, which makes the long hours between flights somewhat bearable.
Once I arrived in Milan at about 7 am on Aug. 18, I traveled by train to Lucca. Pictured above is one of the gates leading into this famous walled city. I wanted to spend some time in Lucca because it has been so highly recommended by travel writer Rick Steves. And there was a big flea market planned for Saturday, which also motivated me to spend some time here.
The only way to get to Lucca by train is to first take the Malpensa airport train to the main train station in Milan; from there you must travel first to Florence and then transfer to a regional train back up to Lucca. This took the entire day; I arrived at my destination (Hotel Rex) at about 7 pm, completely exhausted after flying across the US, then across the Atlantic Ocean, and then 12 hours on trains. And it was HOT! High 90s, low 100s, and humid. I would not do this again; it would have been smarter for me to begin my vacation in Italy with a few days in Stresa, which is only an hour from the Malpensa airport. Live and learn...
My first evening in Lucca I had to stop at a Rick-Steves recommended bistro for pizza. I had the Napoli pictured above, with a lovely sauce, lightly sprinkled with Mozzarella cheese, a few anchovies, and some capers. Mmmmm! My first meal in over 12 hours tasted mighty good, I can tell you!
Once I'd filled up on pizza, I took a stroll on the famous walls that surround Lucca. The lion statue pictured above was one of several outdoor art pieces; I love photographing lions in Italy and have quite a collection now from previous travels.
In the picture above you can see the massive walls, which are wide enough to accommodate pedestrians, runners, moms and dads pushing strollers, bicyclists, and tourists...
...and trees! These huge trees are growing right on top of the walls of Lucca. Gorgeous, and they provided plenty of shade. I sure appreciated that. Once back in my hotel, I took another cold shower and went to bed early.
Tomorrow: Vernazza & Monterosso

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