Friday, June 22, 2012

A day's rest works wonders!

We have just had two nights in the lovely city of Lucca.  The old town is surrounded by the old Roman Walls, and is virtually motor traffic free.  Notice I said motor traffic - it is definately not bicycle free!  There are dozens of bikes zooming in between all the pedestrians at any one time, and how they don't come to grief with one I am not sure! 

Lucca is also a tourist town - I heard more American and English spoken in the day we were there than I have heard on the whole trip!  The streets are narrow and windy, filled with interesting shops, numerous churches, bars, and restaurants.

Puccini - Lucca is his birthplace.

In Lucca we stayed in a little B&B that had 65 steps to our room - Elizabeth counted them!  As part of the €85 we also got a delightful breakfast of bread and jame (sounds boring, but it was very tasty!) bruschetta, hardboiled eggs, fruit, and of course yoghurt and cereal.   The dining room had a frescoed ceiling, and the table seated 12 without any problem, and above one of the cupboards we could see table inserts to double the size of it - though then it wouldn't have fitted into the room!

As part of our rest day, we took a bus ride down to Pisa, where we inadvertantly went past, a long way past, the sites we were there to see.  As a consequence we saw a lot more of Pisa than we otherwise would have!  I thought it was really rather a nice city with arcaded streets, a large river flowing through the centre, and quite clean and tidy.  I say that because the further south we have been going the more we seem to see of overflowing rubbish bins and graffiti! 

We went to Pisa, as you might imagine, to see the marble Tower (as in leaning!), Duomo, and Baptistry.  We went, along with many hundreds of others!  They were there in what seemed like their thousands, but that is probably a slight exaggeration.  There was every race, and every dress style you could imagine, and we heard many different languages.  We also saw many different people trying to hold up the tower as thay posed for photos in front of it - I didn't!

I was surprised at the gentle colours of the marble - soft grey and white, and the carvings on the buidling - especially the Baptistry and the Duomo were very intricate. 

The leaning tower.

The Duomo, with the tower in the background.

Our walking has been varied indeed since the last post.  When we left Pietrasanta at 5.40a.m. my intention was to walk the whole way, but after leaving the village of Camiore I decided that I might find it difficult to finish the day, and so I retraced my steps back into the village and left the other two to walk into Lucca.  They keep trying, unsuccessfully, to pass off a phone to me (they have one each), but instead I waited for them in the square, having found our accomodation and settled in! 

I had a scenic bus tour down to the coast, where I could see glimpses of beach shelters on the shores of the Mediterranean for many kilometres before the bus turned inland again.  Carol and Elizabeth had a very hot afternoon, with very little shade and a steep hill before reaching Lucca.  They had walked double what I had, and were pretty tired!  Leaving Pietransta was quite pleasant, until we had a little spot of bush bashing to do up and over a steep hill.  I was pleasantly surprised that we all came out with very few scratches, as we had to deal with a lot of blackberries!

Our spot of bush bashing!

Today's walk has been very easy.  I feel almost normal, my knee is about 90% and my foot about 70% and I am hoping that the next day or so will see them at a 100%!  The walk today has been mostly through villages, allowing us to stop for a coffee at one point and a cool drink at another.  It has also been almost flat, though the one disacvantage has been the fact that it has been mostly on pavement which really tires the feet and the legs.  At one point we did leave the road and walk on a gravel path, past a church, now disused, at which there was an archeolgical dig going on.  I had a bit of a look around an could see that they had uncovered skeletons from people being buried basically at the foundations of the building.  There was a cemetery next door, but these bones must have been very old, long before the cemetery existed. 

At present I am sitting in the Biblioteque at Altopascio.  I bought a wonderful new map at Lucca which has all the refuges listed on it, and tonight we are in a sports complex, having rated it the same number of stars as our first night out of Pavia.  As I sit here typing I can look out the window and the trees blowing in a good (cool) breeze - something that has been a rarity thus far, and I look across to the hill oppostite at a village perched on the top, complete with its tower.  Carol and Elizabeth have been occupying themselves with their favourite pass time - shopping, while I have been taking this opportunity to post this blog, and also add photos to the last 2 blogs, if you want to go back and look. 

Tomorrow will be a longer day, but still flat.  I am hoping that it will be cloudy like today, and as cool.  When we left Lucca this morning it looked to me as if there was a black cloud on the horizon, and it wasn't till I had been walking for a while that I realised that it was actually the hills with so much haze on them that it looked like cloud. 


  1. Enjoying your posts and photographs. Look after your yourself, onward,

  2. Hi Janet,
    I'm printing off all your blog posts for your dear Dad. he says to say hello and glad you're all OK. I think he's really enjoying reading all about it. Keep up the spirit. Glad you loved Lucca. Jamyang and i too a train up to Pisa and then on to Lucca one day and loved the quaint town. hope to go back there next year. Buen Camino, Jane xx