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lucca: passing through

August 9, 2009

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March 22, 2009 (continued)

I get off the train, enter the thick 16th-century walls that wrap around the entire city of Lucca and walk 20 minutes to Ostello San Frediano, which looks like a mansion, library, hotel and monastery all built into one.  In my room are six bunks.  On one of the bunks is Kate from Australia.   Kate is 25 years old and has been traveling since mid-January.  She plans to continue traveling the world for the next 6-12 months and I secretly envy her.  Also.  She has the most adorable freckles, which has little to do with anything except that I find freckles rather darling, like sun glitter blown on porcelain skin.  We leave the hostel to walk the streets at dusk and snap more shots of more churches and more piazzas under more golden light.  It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

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Later in the evening, we buy a bottle of wine.  The man at the store uncorks it & gives us two plastics cups.  We then stop at Bella M’Briana, a wood-fired pizzeria, where the happiest staff on earth work.  The big biker dude pushing and pulling pizzas out of the blazing oven has a wide Cheshire cat grin on his face.  It is contagious and truly impossible not to smile back.  The place smells like camp fire and the bread my mom used to bake and sweet tomato sauce.  I get a bean, sausage, garlic and mozzarella pizza.  Kate goes for the marinara.  We take them to go, then set up a table in one of the huge communal spaces in the hostel.  The table cloth is checkered red and white.  All that is missing are sheets over our heads to feel like we are picnicking in our own little Italian fort, except we’re enjoying the adult equivalent of milk and cookies.  Some things are way better in the adult world.

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By the time we head back to our room at 10pm, we have a few new roommates.  One Asian girl our age who doesn’t speak a word of English, one French middle-aged woman and one Spanish elderly lady.  The girl clicks around in heels on the marble floor for 20 minutes before finally turning the lights off and settling into bed.  She then proceeds to snore the loudest snore I have ever heard in my entire life.  All.  Effin. Night.  Long.  Kate and I wake up at 1am, give each other a look and don’t fall back asleep until well past 3am.  It is torture.  Pure torture.  How can one little woman make so much noise?  One would have thought there were three big trucker dudes beneath me.  Freight trains don’t even make that much noise.

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March 23, 2009

For all the lack of sleep, I get up at 6am, crusty eyes and crustier mood, for my morning ritual… a walk followed by espresso and pastries.  Lucca is lovely, simply lovely, but what can I say about it that is different from any other Italian town?  They are all starting to merge into one big cliché.  Another town enclosed in a wall, surrounded by mountains, crawling with alleyways, lined with colorful pink and yellow and blue buildings, cafeterias, trattorias, pasticcerias, pizzerias, gelaterias… all the rias you could imagine.   People riding bicycles with baskets between handlebars, little old ladies wearing heels with knee high taupe nylons, church bells ringing, a peach sunrise, a purple sunset, lively conversation,  capisces thrown around like confetti, people entering cafés, buon giorno, people leaving market stalls, arrivederci… this is the music, the singsong, the va et viens of Italy.

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By 10am, I am at the train station, very much looking forward to a change of scenery.  Small Italian towns?  Been there, done that.  Though it sounds jaded, I assure you it is not.  I am completed enamored with small Italian towns.  It’s just that this girl needs city and nature in equal doses and I’m rather fancying some salty ocean air and hiking on something other than cobblestone and asphalt.  Little do I know the beauty that awaits me at Cinque Terre.  It takes 3 trains to get there from Lucca, but oh! is it ever worth it.  Cinque Terre is by far one of my favorite destinations of this whole entire trip.  I cannot wait to share it with you.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. bhamgirl717 permalink
    August 9, 2009 1:39 pm

    gorgeous shots – so beautiful, my favorite is the green door

  2. August 9, 2009 1:43 pm

    beauty beauty beauty!!

  3. August 9, 2009 11:59 pm

    What wonderful pictures! I just happened upon your blog and am finding myself wishing I had the chance to travel before having my kids. (pretty mush got pregnant straight outta college). Anyway, enjoy the sights! Love the photo of the bench.

  4. August 10, 2009 11:05 am

    Oh those pictures are just breath-taking! I am so jealous, thank you for sharing!

  5. wingedpaths permalink
    August 10, 2009 5:21 pm

    I’m really enjoying reading about your trip. Your words and your photos both are so beautiful, and they transport me beyond my small, ordinary world.

  6. August 13, 2009 8:51 am

    I’m so glad someone else needs equal doses of nature and city! I’ve been living in Connecticut for the past few months and the beauty of mountains and woods heals and inspires me like nothing ever has. But then I find myself dancing at 12:30 on a Tuesday night at some crazy bar on the Lower East Side in NYC, and feel so alive I don’t want to be anywhere else. Makes it hard to settle down anywhere 🙂

  7. Karen permalink
    August 15, 2009 1:08 pm

    I love, love, love your blog! It adds so much happiness to my day!

  8. August 26, 2009 12:30 pm

    I am sitting here, wolfing down my lunch. I am a teacher and I have to pick up my class in exactly eleven minutes. So, please explain to me just exactly how you made the world stop. Ahhhhhhhhhhh……… That was my mind sighing. Thank you. Oh, thank you for this little bit of peace in my crazy, too hectic day.

  9. September 2, 2009 3:29 am

    Aloha!Thank you for your photos, they are an antidepressant. Want to stay in Italy some day.

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