Thu, Jul 9th, 2015 Pisa, Lucca, Firenze & Certaldo.
I have arrived, a few days early to re-acquaint myself with Italy and prepare for the students.
My plane flew into Pisa - it's the first time I have been here. It is a lovely small city with many streets to walk and smaller sites to see en route to the big one, yes, the Tower. It is a strange site and an interesting story of humanity trying to hold back stone, gravity and a forvigiving foundation.
I loved walking thru Pisa's alleys and down her sleepy 7am corridors. My plane arrived at 6 am, so it was an early start for me. I meandered down a path of wonders my friend Rick (yes, Steves) suggested and as with most of his suggestions, it did not disappoint.
Lucky for me, it was still quiet at the Field of Miracles, where Pisa's famous tower stands. After a nap on the lawn and a walk thru the Duomo, the crowds were too thick for my taste, so I escaped onto a quiet street with no 'sites' and enjoyed Pisa as regular folks would.
When you leave the beaten path with no map, there are always wonderful discoveries and often circular meanderings, aka, getting 'lost'. After several turn-arounds, I found le stazionne, picked up my luggage and purchased my ticket for the next stop.
As per travel guru Rick Steves, I opted to spend my first night in Lucca and I'm glad I did. I love this walled city and the vibrant life around it. Now I'm resting after 6 hours of walking. Tonight I will explore more inside her walls.
My host at Allegro Moderno pointed out a concert schedule here in Lucca. Looks like I missed Bob Dylan by 5 days and I'll miss Billy Idol & Elton John by a week. Seems Lucca has quite an impressive summer music schedule!
Awake and refreshed, amazingly, I'm still in my arrival day in Italy. The nights are cooler than the days and like my dog, Ty, Italians come to life at night...and so did I. Refreshed, showered and dressed for the evening, I took myself out to dinner, enjoyed torttelino, a vino rosso and headed into the walled city.
I meander thru more winding streets and listen to Italian conversations, of which I can only decipher a few words, but the backdrop of American rock n roll in this concert series has me feeling remarkably at home. I didn't have a ticket so I just sat in a piazza and enjoyed the music along with all the other free-loaders. Exhausted and fulfilled, I walked out of the walled city and across the railroad bridge to my humble room for much needed rest.
Italy, Day 2, more Lucca:
Day two in Lucca saw me walking from wall to wall and back again. I passed by the home of Lucca's famous resident, Puccini. Then I chatted with several artists. Matteo, owner of Antica Tipografia Biagini, A typographic artist who chatted with me about creating an embossed logo and or book. I met a jeweler who did cool experimental jewelry, Stefano Pedonesi.
I was drawn into sculptor Andrea Bucci's gallery to admire his pristine white forms with strong lines and a soft finish. From there I walked thru alleys and passed beautiful doors with great knockers. As I was looking for a quiet place to have lunch with some veggies, I stumbled upon another Rick S favorite and got in right before the kitchen closed. It was perfeto!
All this, plus I climbed a tower for those great photos and took a 4 mile bike ride around the top of the fortress. Another night of free-loading music, more vino rosso and I was done.
Day 3, Firenze
A short train trip from Lucca to Florence and I went back to another favorite Rick recommendation, SoggiornoAlessandra, a wonderful small Inn, just on the south side of Florence, the quieter and more working class neighborhood. I feel right at home with studio artists and regular Florentines.
It was a walking day to re-acquaint, since I'll be back for real in about 10-days. I walked from Le Stazzione to Market Centrale...to the Duomo, to Piazza Della Signorino, where I spent hours watching people, exploring the outdoor sculptures and listening to live music.
A walk along Ponte Vecchio en route home, I caught another glimpse of the River Arno, her night black waters lit up with beautiful white lights. Homeward bound in preparation for an early train to Certaldo, my 4th city in as many days.