Ciao! Sorry for the massive delay in blog posts…the Italian internet has not liked my attempts to blog and has deleted my blogs twice before I had the chance to publish them! So…I am going to back track a little bit to 2 weekends ago!
On the second Tuesday we were here, my friends and I attended a travel workshop that the Umbra Institute was having to help us learn the in’s and out’s of traveling across Europe. One of the biggest pieces of advice they gave us was to “expect the unexpected”. This is a lesson that took me only 2 days to learn. You may recall in my last post that I said I was heading to Barcelona the following weekend…well, things don’t always go as planned. On Wednesday night, two nights before our expected departure date, we opened our confirmation email for our flights only to realize they were booked for Thursday morning to Saturday rather than Friday morning to Sunday. Due to the strict attendance policy, there was no way we could leave Thursday morning to make our flight. Of course this caused a ton of commotion, stress, and planning as we sat down to try to come up with an affordable solution to still make it to Barca. Some of the girls decided to dish out more money to pay for a flight change, but I decided that it wasn’t worth it and that I would just find a back up plan for my first weekend travel abroad.
Thankfully, my three roommates and a few other girls and guys were heading on a train trip to Lucca, Italy and Pisa. It was simple to add an additional person onto the hostel reservation so I boarded the train with a group of 9 of us and headed north to Lucca. Lucca was incredible. If I had a romanticized picture of Italy in my head, this town depicted it all. For those of you who don’t know, Lucca is a town built within the parameters of a huge wall, which was once built to protect the city from attacks by enemies. The wall still stands and there is now a bike and running path that is heavily used by the people of the town. People were riding their bikes everywhere and there were several opportunities to take the “picture of a beautiful bike sitting against a colorful Italian building”. The town also had a great feeling of community.
After arriving on Friday morning we spent a majority of the day perusing the streets of Lucca by foot and roaming in and out of the cafés and shops. I think we walked something like 7-8 miles that day. I was truly taken back by how wonderful this place was. On Saturday morning we walked around the farmers market (not your typical American farmers market). There were vendors selling everything from vegetables to clothes, to underwear, to hats and other little knick-knacks. We ran into some sort of Renaissance ceremony with people dressed up in tights and these gowns…it was interesting to say the least, but cool to see how the Italians in Lucca still embraced their history. Following this little presentation, we were off to rent bikes to make it around the path on top of the wall. Although cold and a little rainy, this was probably my favorite part of the trip! It made it so much easier to see the different parts of town all together.
Sunday morning we woke up to catch an early and quick train to the town of Pisa where we were obviously going to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I can’t say there is much to see beside the Leaning Tower and the beautiful church that stood beside it. Pisa was beautiful but definitely more touristy than both Perugia and Lucca, the only other Italian cities I have seen. Due to this fact, I am thankful we were only there for a few hours to get our leaning tower photo ops and to then be on the rails back to Perugia.
Although this weekend didn’t go according to plan…and I did not make it to Barca, I firmly believe it is a good thing I didn’t go. The girls who did go arrived exhausted after a night spent in the airport, only then to be charged for 10 people for 3 nights when there were only 5 girls for 2 nights (trust me, this lead to some very entertaining bilingual arguing over Skype once we all reconvened back in Perugia). This may have ended up being a very expensive weekend when it shouldn’t have been but I realized that “everything cant go according to plan” and I am thankful I got to see Lucca, a place I may have never seen if I hadn’t gone that weekend.
My post on Assisi, nose piercing adventures, and my first field trip to Roccafiore Vineyard is to come!