June 21, 2010

Under the Tuscan rain...in Bagni di Lucca

I took the train across Italy to meet my parents in Tuscany.  It rained.  Sometimes most of the day.  Sometimes part of the day.  But every single day, with one exception.  Apparently this – summer trips to Europe in which it rains a lot – is an annual occurrence for them.  In which case, I’m not sure I want to travel with them again…  (Just kidding, guys.)

We managed a visit to Florence (one morning in a driving rain and another day with rain in the morning, midday and again late afternoon), had a pretty dismal day in Lucca, and some decent weather for part of the day in Pisa and Siena.  On our only rain-free day, we visited Pistoia – which had a lovely, untouristed piazza – and the beach resort town of Viareggio.  Keep in mind, on the beach, I still had to wear the same jeans and hoodie as in the photo above.

Siena's Piazza del Campo (where the annual Palio horse race is held - see "Quantom of Solace") in a brief moment of blue sky.

My mom and dad in Il Campo (Siena).

Piazza del Duomo (Pistoia)

In one of the more interesting occurrences of the trip, we got caught in a thunderstorm in Lucca and ducked into the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi.  My dad inquired about the advertised teacher discount, but the ticket agent told us that the discount was not for Americans.  We thought perhaps the discount was just for EU citizens – even though that was not stated – and my dad asked if that was the case.  But the agent said no.  In fact, he told us that the discount actually applied to everyone – except Americans.

Lucca from Torre d'Ore

We thought that we had chosen the best day (weather-wise) to visit the Cinque Terre, but when we got to the first town, Riomaggiore, it was…raining (surprise).  Because there had been so much rain, almost all of the hiking trails linking the towns were closed.  We were able to walk the first stage – along with a whole lot of other people – to Manarola, at which time the rain finally stopped, and it turned into a pretty nice afternoon.  From that point on, we had to take the train between towns.  The towns were lovely, but I think we were all a little disappointed by how overcrowded and overcommercialized they were.  I think the experience might have been different if we had been able to get out on the trails.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

By accident, we found out that Pisa’s annual Regatta di San Ranieri was being held when we were in town, so we decided to check it out.  Apparently the regatta has traditions that date back to the Middle Ages, where teams representing the four quarters of the city compete in a rowing race on the River Arno; the first team to reach the boat at the finish line, climb a cable up the mast, and capture the banner wins.  But I just found all of this out by Googling.  At the time, we had no idea what was going on.  A few minutes after the race started, they disappeared around a bend in the river.  After about 45 minutes, we were bored and almost left, but we assumed there was more to come since the crowd was still there.  Finally, we did see them return up the river, but we were too far away to see the climber capture the banner.

Regatta di San Ranieri (the climber is on the front)

We had some good food.  We made a picnic out of supplies we had picked up at various markets, including some focaccia, fresh mozerella, prosciutto, pastries and prosecco.  We also found a great little neighborhood pizzeria, and had dinner in a spaghetteria in Pisa – my dad’s professed highlight of the trip – where we had vina de la casa, caprese, spaghetti with Genovese pesto, and cioccolata panna e fragole for dolce.

Caprese

Pasta

Dolce

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One Response to “”

  1. Erika said

    I hiked the entire Cinque Terre in the rain way back when I went to Italy in college. It is gorgeous but no amount of hiking in the rain is really all that much fun… Say hi to your parents for me!

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