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 expresso machine). No big problem though, this gives me a chance to experince 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. Instead after stopping for a caffè macchiato at the beautiful bar on Via Filungo, I walked to one of the bike rental shops near the wall. I figured that riding a bike would take some of the weight off of my foot and still allow me to enjoy the sights in Lucca.
The cost of renting a bike in Lucca is 2.50 euros. You leave your passport wtih 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 since they provided me with the most cushioning. Of course 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 reaked 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 ok but nothing to rave about. 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. Again, 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. 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.
Because my foot was pretty sore and I was not sure if I would make it up both towers, I decided to climb the Torre delle Ore first. My B&B was located between the two towers and not far from each.
The Torre delle Ore is a clock and bell tower. The bells ring every 15 minutes, although strangely the time was always off when the bells rang while I was there. At first I thought there was something wrong with my watch when I heard the bells ring until 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 am a sap for towers with our without a sore foot and could not pass up this deal. I asked her how many steps there were for each tower. Both were in the 200's (I believe the Torre Guinigi has 230 steps and I am not sure about Torre delle Ore). She said that although the Torre Guinigi (tower with the Oak trees at the top) is shorter, it has more steps because the Torre delle Ore is much more narrow.
I have to say that the Torre delle Ore was one of my least favorite climbs. The steps are 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 lotsof pigeon droppings and feathers everywhere. The views at the top however were spectacular! Just as I was about to take a photo, the bells started ringing. I jumped! I stopped and set my camera to video to record the bells ringing. I didn't get much though 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. After limping up and down the tower, I figured what the heck, I might as well do the second tower since it was such a beautiful day.
The Torre Guinigi is a much easier climb (even though there are more stairs). 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 wonderful at the top of this tower also.
When comparing the two towers, I would say that the views were just as good at the top of both towers, the 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 prefered the peacefulness at the top of the Torre delle Ore.
Wow, two towers in one day! Very cool! 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 that 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 had a wonderful lunch on the wall and then rode around the wall.
I ended up walking much more than I planned on Thursday. 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 had a wonderful dinner at Prosciutto e Melone, a restaurant located just outside of one of the openings of the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. I ordered Caprese conbufala 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. I took photos of both that I hope come out. 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).
Long day! I headed back to my B&B and crashed.
Two more days of Lucca to catch up on and then I will start on Bologna (which has been wonderful). I have decided to travel to Stresa on Saturday instead of Sunday to avoid the possible strike. My hotel in Stresa has the same room that I reserved available on Saturday and my hotel in Bologna was very understanding about my need to leave early, although I would prefer not to leave Bologna a day early. I really love it here. No going back though as I purchased my Eurostar ticket today.
Hope all is well with everyone! Ciao!!