Back end of August, we de-camped to Tuscany for a week. A bit of a last hurrah family holiday as a unit of 5, as at the end of this week our eldest de-camps to University and has intimated that he is unlikely to want to come with us again, which is fair enough. Good news is he still wants to tag along for our annual weekend pilgrimage to Lowestoft every July when we celebrate our wedding anniversary. A dual cause for celebration was my wife’s xxth birthday – it’s rude to advertise a lady’s age so don’t even ask!
|When's the re-make of Baywatch? Call my agent!|
Our itinery was fairly loose and free, as we were newbies to Italy; apart from me back in 1975 as an 11 year old on a church trip in Holy Year (I think I can safely lay claim to having been inside every Catholic church in Rome and the surrounding district, or maybe false memory just makes it seem like that!) and my son having a trip to Venice last year.
We flew Luton to Pisa on a Friday. Picked up a hire car and drove northwards for an hour or so to the village Piano di Coreglia where we had rented a villa. Late arrival in the evening meant we just dumped luggage and crashed.
Our week went thus:
Saturday - Barga and Lucca
Sunday – lazy
Monday – Viareggio by the sea
Tuesday – lazy
Wednesday – Florence
Thursday - lazy
Friday - Pisa and home
Accommodation - great, hosts – fantastic, pool – a bit cold but great fun, weather - fabulous – hot, but not too hot, food – fantastic. (The day before we travelled, I hit my target weight of 12 stone – 4 stone off in 25 weeks! That meant I could release the hunger monster inside me!) Plenty of pizza, not too much pasta for me – not a big fan, a few beers, a few glasses of wine – happy days.
Driving – hmm, no hiccups, but it takes a while getting used to travelling on the “wrong” side of the road, a few impatient drivers encountered – but no road rage, no cat’s eyes in Italy, so it was a bit hairy at times travelling back in the evenings when it got dark. Our village was in the sticks and whilst not isolated it was a bit of a trip traversing through the mountains and hills, either through tunnels cut through, or winding roads criss-crossing back and forth. Top prize to my son for his navigational skills as I would have taken a lot more wrong turns without him.
Barga – ok for lunch and a drink. Perhaps we were in the wrong part of town, but there wasn’t a lot going on.
Lucca – loved it. Great shops and cafes. Visited the Museum of Torture – I’ve obviously led a sheltered life and I couldn’t imagine some of the punishments thought up and on display. Nice evening meal in the square.
Viareggio – about an hour or so drive for us. Beach was ok, but the sea and waves were fantastic. A bit too hot for me, mostly reading in the shade when not in the water. Fantastic meal in the evening.
Florence – we had a drive of about an hour and a half to get here. Took on board a bit of culture. Climbed the tower to the top of the cathedral and saw the view over Florence – not too spectacular in my opinion, there’s a uniformity about the rooftops unlike London’s skyline which I viewed from St. Paul’s. Went and saw “David” by Michaelangelo – really impressive, plus a host of other religious pictures and sculptures by a lot of people I’ve never ever heard of. Had a stroll around the city, saw all the gold merchants on the bridge over the river – strictly window-shopping. Fantastic day and definitely a place I’d like to re-visit as we barely scratched the surface.
Pisa – amazing seeing the Leaning Tower up close. Didn’t climb it, none of us really felt the need to. Lunched here and had a stroll around doing some shopping before heading to the airport and home.
Other bits and bobs viewed – some underground caves at Grotto del Vento and the Devil’s Bridge – Ponte della Maddalena.
One of the most memorable holidays ever with the family!
|Lucca - I think!|
|Missed my pizzas!|
|Head football with competitive daughter!|
|On the bridge!|
|Too hot - time to wear a cap!|
|"David" - I'm the one wearing clothes just to avoid confusion!|
|With the birthday girl!|
Looks like a great holiday - great place to celebrate a birthday. I love Florence. Of all the places outside Australia that I've been to it is the one I would like to live in if I didn't have to worry about earning a living (because my Italian is woeful and wouldn't earn me enough to buy water let alone eat pizza).ReplyDelete
Bernadette, I think I prefer Barcelona to Florence personally. I'd set up camp there. My language skills are non-existent - schoolboy French only, most of it forgotten.Delete
We hope to visit a few more great European cities of culture in the years ahead - our tick list so far is woefully spartan.
Oh how lovely, that looks like a fabulous holiday. One of my best friends lives just outside Lucca so I know it well, it made me quite nostalgic to see the amphitheatre. And I have fond memories of trips out to Florence and Viareggio too. And if I may be personal - you are looking very good in these photos. Just as well, you have a good-looking family there, wouldn't want to let the side down!ReplyDelete
BTW, I avoid driving round Lucca if at all possible, I find it terrifying.
Moira, we had a fantastic time. We would definitely re-visit the area. Daytime driving I could cope with much better than in the night. I think we would want to visit a vineyard next time.Delete
Thanks also for the kind remarks - I'm feeling a hell of a lot better after my recent efforts. I've probably put a few pounds back on - but I'm in a much better place than I was at the start of the year. I was still blowing hard, climbing up to the top of those steps in Florence, but not as badly as climbing St Pauls in Feb. (Still running around the town - 4 times a week at the minute!)
Col - Oh, you had a lovely time!! I'm very happy for you and it all looks wonderful. I'm getting a pleasant dizziness just looking at the scenery, and the art must have been fantastic. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Margot thank you. Some fantastic memories for the 5 of us.Delete
Thanks for sharing your lovely expereince Col. You just remind me of a trip my wife and I made to Tuscunny some years ago.ReplyDelete
Jose, you're welcome. Happy to provoke some fond memories for yourself as well!Delete
Col, thanks for sharing these lovely photographs of your very lovely family and writing about your memorable holiday. The Leaning Tower looks close enough to touch. I didn't know you could go near it. My best wishes to your son for his next adventure at the university,ReplyDelete
Prashant thank you. The Tower is protected by railings so you can get close to but not actually touch it from the outside. I believe it was "closed" for many years whilst repairs - underpinning I guess were carried out. My sister and parents visited back in the 90's when the outside was covered up also, for cleaning. We were very fortunate to see it as it is today. You can pay to go up and ascend the 7 or 8 floors to the bells at the top, but it was a very hot day and we didn't really feel the need to.Delete
Col, a few years ago, I read a news story that the Tower was continuing to tilt dangerously and that the Italian government lost no time in stabilising it.Delete
I think this problem has re-reared it's head every so often throughout the centuries. I did look up the history on wiki when we got home - I think it has been certified by the experts as good for another 200 years or so - it will outlast the pair of us!Delete
You look very fit, Col. Lovely family and lovely photos. I am not much for traveling but to see the Leaning Tower... I would like that.ReplyDelete
Tracy, thank you. Like Moira mentioned - I don't want to let the side down!Delete
It was amazing seeing the Leaning Tower..... never say never, maybe one day you'll take a European trip.
Your holiday looks gorgeous. I like that you didn't feel you needed to climb the Tower -- I have a tendency to turn holidays into exhausting route marches, but as I've got older (and slower), I hope that I'm letting myself say, more often, "No! Just sit down and relax!" (I probably shouldn't talk to myself out loud, even on holidays)ReplyDelete
Vicki, thank you. Too hot by half that day. We were happy to view it from ground level.Delete
"Nothing wrong with talking to yourself is there, Col?." "Err, no there isn't Col"