Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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What I did

Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, June 26, 2011

It was hard to make an early start this morning  as we had gone to the introductory late show (starting at 10.30 pm) on the boat last night.  The cruise director was doing an introduction comedy session where he got people out of the audience and asked them funny/embarrassing questions - needless to say anyone sitting close to Lee could hardly hear due to the fact he was splitting his sides very loudly!!  When we woke up this morning after a very smooth/slow cruise (and a great sleep - after rocking the night before) we had docked at Livorno.  We decided to try the buffet breakfast rather than silver service so we would be faster - but that is not the case.  It was really crowded so we all voted for the contrary in the future! Our tour guide Santi, had organised to meet us for our own personal tour around Tuscany at 8 am. This works out about half the cost of going on a cruise organised tour - and so much better!  We could choose what we wanted to see and were in a small air conditioned Mercedes Vito van rather than a big coach.  Santi also had excellent English and pronunciation!  He had studied history and English at university - so was a wealth of knowledge!

Our first stop was Pisa - of course you all know about the architectural project gone terribly wrong.  I always thought the leaning tower was built and then it started to lean.  In fact after building it 1 metre they realised it was leaning.  So they took 150 years - 50 of those years they were deciding whether to finish it because of the lean.  They tried to correct it near the top, and you can actually see where it curves.  We walked around this and went into the Cathedral where the Sunday church service was on and around the Baptistry.  It was really crowded with people as a number of the cruise ship buses had arrived.  Most of them then went off to Florence or Cinque Terre but we decided to do smaller places which was a wise decision!  Apart from “semen” between the bricks (instead of cement), everything was easy to understand!

Our next stop in Tuscany was Lucca a 16th and 17th century old city hidden behind Renaissance walls (and one of the few that survived being destroyed in the war around this area).  The walls are 12 metres high and 20 metres wide.  We hired bikes and road around the wall which was a great view - with lovely leafy trees over the path.  There are many churches and lovely Tuscan - yellow and orange houses.  One Basilica we stopped at had a unique 13th century gold leaf Mosaic.  We stopped for lunch at the Piazza Anfiteatro which is a huge oval - where the housed were raised on the foundation of a one time Roman amphitheatre.  Santi ordered some lovely Tuscan dishes for us to sample.

We then had a lovely drive up into the hills to a village perched on the top called Montecarlo.  Again it had a wall that surrounded it with lovely arched gates, but it looked over the beautiful Tuscan fields - grapevines, olive trees etc.  We stopped here for a famous Avicgado?? not sure of spelling - gelato icecream with hot coffee for those who desired. It was great (Lee)  

On our way back to the boat we saw many fields with beautiful yellow sunflowers in full bloom.  As we were on the freeway it was difficult to stop.  We were able to pull over at a gas station.  I was determined (surprise, surprise) to go down amongst them - much to Lee’s chagrin!  Also Ryan and Jarrod were keen!  So over barbed wire fences, blackberry bushes, steep slippery grass slopes and ditches - we made it.  
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Jenny B on

Pics? Pics? Where are they???? Love Lucca - the most amazing little town. Have fun guys. Have just spent a freezing weekend in Bowral so your photos of sun and boats and swimming pools are making me ill!!!! Enjoy x

Jenny B on

Ahhhhhhhhh... lovely, thank you.

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