A Life in a Year – 11th August, Train Ride From Pisa to Lucca

We had a little breakfast across the road from the hotel and then we walked to the train station because today we planned to go to Lucca.  On the way it started to rain so we looked for a bar to shelter in until it passed.  The menu was reasonably inexpensive but hidden in small print was information that we would be charged nearly €2 each for service which was going to double the price of the drinks that we were intending to order.   In the old days it was customary to leave the addition of a tip to the discretion of the customer now many bars and restaurants just add it on anyway and then still expect you to leave a few extra coins as well.  This represents customer fleecing on a grand scale and not being prepared to pay this extortionate sum we got up and left and with some difficulty found a bar without this arrangement.

The train arrived on time and we took the short thirty minute ride to Lucca.  Once we were out of the city we passed through fields of arable farm land and were pleased to pass through acres of sunflowers all bobbing their heads in the sun and shining like a swaying cloth of gold.

Lucca is everything that you expect from a Tuscan medieval city.  It is the largest Italian city with its medieval wall still completely intact and inside it has a number of attractive piazzas and a labyrinth of narrow streets to get confused and lost in and we explored some back streets and alleyways before settling down at a pavement café for lunch in a side street near the Piazza St Michele. 

We liked the Cathedral Square and the buskers entertaining the crowds, the spacious Piazza Napoleone and the Piazza San Michele but our favourite was the Piazza Anfiteato that was built on the site of an old Roman amphitheatre and had retained its elliptical shape.

Lucca is also famous for being the birthplace of the composer Pucini whose best known works include La Bohème, Tosca and Madam Butterfly, but most people will be familiar with Nessun Dorma which has become an opera standard.  It is an interesting fact that Pucini contracted throat cancer and he was one of the first people to be treated by radiation therapy.  This wasn’t a great success and he died shortly afterwards from complications that caused continuous bleeding from the treated area and finally a heart attack.

Later in the afternoon we walked back to the train station, stopping for ice cream on the way, and took the train back to Pisa.  After some quiet time on the hotel terrace Sally and I returned to last night’s restaurant where I enjoyed a tasty seafood pasta and Sally had the tiramisu that she had been promising herself all day.

After dinner it was time for me to go and despite thje hectic traffic I made it back in one piece and then caught the train to the airport where after an effortless check in I waited for the plane and then slept the whole way home.  It had been a good two days and I had satisfied myself that I had no need for concern for the girls as they continued their grand tour of Italy.

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