Friday, September 19, 2014

Travelling through Tuscany in 40 clicks

The Tuscan treasure trove of sights, food, culture and people is endless. We left Signa on a sunny summer morning in late June and made our way to Lucca.

I had done my bit of 'do this and not that' research and decided upon spending a day in Lucca instead of Pisa- and this is what you should do if you want to relish Tuscany without getting crushed by ship loads of tourists.

Entering Lucca is like entering another world. It's a walled city and the only one in Italy with the entire wall intact. Its tourist brochure proudly celebrates its 500 years of City Walls.

For me, the fact that this is a traffic free city and has been since the 1970s makes Lucca the kind of place I'd like to call home. Only residents are allowed to park inside the city walls and they cycle everywhere. Visitors can park on the outer perimeter of the wall and then enter through any of the gates built in this imposing wall.

So imagine a wall which is so wide that they have planted trees on it- it's an unmissable experience to walk or cycle on this wall.

Lucca's medieval architecture is intact. I'll let the pictures do the talking. I'm not biased or anything, but...

I do have a soft corner for doors and windows, especially windows that double up as mini gardens. So, please bear with me...

At this point, I had to ask for directions to a craft fair that was being held in Lucca and asking for directions almost always becomes my responsibility (you know men and directions).

So I went up to an Italian gentleman who was parking his bike. I am sure he gave me the direction but all I remember registering then (and all I can recall now) are his deep blue eyes and his chiseled features.

I turned around in a daze after having nodded furiously to show my understanding and gratitude.I walked  up to my husband (still in a daze) and said,
" He was too cute, I couldn't concentrate- let's look for the information centre".

Which we did.

Why wouldn't I love Lucca? It made me feel like a fourteen year old at forty three!

We found the craft market. It had a range of Tuscan artists displaying their crafts. As usual, I was drawn to pottery and ceramics, but sadly did not buy anything...maybe next time...

We were almost ready to stop for lunch when we entered this beautiful shop in the town centre (it's the one behind the bicycle).

Lunch was a delicious Lucian fish dish with chickpeas. The waiter proudly explained that Lucian cuisine is unique. Like India, Italy offers a huge range of local cuisine which changes every few kilometres or so and that is why a road trip is so worth your while if you can manage one.

It was time to leave Lucca ...

And head off to Pisa, which is a stone's throw away. We found an excellent parking spot ( a block up from the western edge of the Compo di Miracoli on Via Pietrasanta), paid a couple of Euros to park, got accosted by sellers of 'genuine fake' watches saying 'namaste' and plunged into the throngs of tourists.

We were back in the car in exactly 30 minutes after having taken a bunch of photos with the leaning tower,including selfies. I managed a people-less click...

And my daughter managed to capture the tower on her phone...

Back in the car, sweating and exhausted, we thanked our stars that we'd chosen Lucca over Pisa before we headed out south towards Siena. 

The next set of pictures are from a day of  driving ( a few days later) in and around the Val D'Orcia region of Tuscany, south of Siena. We stopped at Montalcino (famous for its red wine and where we bought a bottle of Brunello), Pienza (famous for its sheepcheese) and Montepulciano (famous for its Rosso di Montepulciano). These are beautiful towns nesteled in the the most breathtaking Tuscan scenery. 

Alessandro from Borgo Villa Castelletti in Signa had gone into raptures of emotions when he was describing the beauty of this area to us.

Words fall short.

These are walking towns.

No cars.


See you soon. xx


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  2. This photo essay is great! The pictures are fabulous. We are hoping to do Italy next year in the summer, so your photos and comments are very interesting and will I am sure be hugely useful too.

    1. Thank you Ketaki. I will be more than happy to pass on any other details you might need. There's more on the way...

  3. Italy is one among top travel destinations on my list, definitely want to visit it one day and after reading you post I am inclined towards doing road trip:) Love the pictures.. those landscapes with houses and those stone roads, doors , windows, balconies and walls are simply WoW.. just out of fairy tales.. Thank you for sharing Arti!

  4. how beautiful!!! thank you arti for sharing the warm tuscan sun and all the stunning moments! LOVE***

  5. Beautiful place, Arti ! You had me all drooling at the pics. The flowers left me spellbound and that pic of the crafts fair too. Really, words cannot do justice to this piece of heaven. I want to go too :D
    Moral of the story...don't ask Italian men for directions :D

    1. Thank you for stopping by Reshma. You'll love Tuscany. This is my opinion but a vacation in Itlay is incomplete without a chance to talk to at least one of those gorgeous Italian men:) and asking for directions- the oldest trick in the bag. LOL xx


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