Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Leaning Tower & More...

Yes! There were trees growing atop this tower! Crazy!!!
Cole had two days off of work last week because All Saint's Day fell on a Thursday. In Italy, holidays that fall on Thursdays (or Tuesdays) are eagerly anticipated! They create a "bridge" and give Italians an extra day off of work. So... as they say in Italy, we took advantage of "the bridge" and planned a road trip.

We chose to drive this time (instead of taking the train) and spent a long weekend in Tuscany. We left Como Thursday morning, and stayed one night in Pisa before moving on to Siena for two nights. I feel like I say this every time we travel here, but it was probably one of our favorite trips so far! The drive was beautiful and we saw such unique and off-the-beaten-path sites. Tuscany wasn't exactly what we were picturing (think: grassy rolling hills, Cyprus trees and poppies everywhere). Instead the terrain was more mountainous, with steeper wooded hills, Cyprus trees and lots of olive groves and vineyards.  The scenery was definitely the most rural we have seen yet - just beautiful to a couple of kids from Kansas.

Everything we read about Pisa said that the leaning tower is basically it... The area surrounding the tower contains a few buildings that are historical and gorgeous, as well, but Pisa isn't a town where you'd want to spend an entire day. Bottom line: we didn't plan to dedicate a lot of our time to Pisa. We had been given several recommendations to see the small town of Lucca while in Italy and it was just a little ways off of the main autostrade (interstate) so we spent a few hours there before moving on to Pisa.

40-foot tall walls surrounding Lucca.

Lucca is a medieval town known for 40 feet-tall walls surrounding their city center. The walls were built in the 1500's to prevent attack and were so intimidating to would-be attackers, that there were never even any attempts to conquer Lucca! In the 1800's the walls also saved the town from a flood, blocking the oncoming water. So there's your little history lesson about this beautiful village. Walking the streets of Lucca, we truly felt like we had stepped back in time... except for the fact that there were oddly dressed characters everywhere. At first, we thought it was some kind of Halloween or All Saint's celebration. Then we saw the signs promoting a Comic Festival... as in comic books, so you can imagine the unique crowd. The town was busy! We spent a few hours walking around while there, and climbed to the top of one of their towers, which had trees growing on the top! The view was fantastic!

We moved on to Pisa and did the cheesy-holding-it-up pictures the next morning. The tower REALLY leans... pictures don't do it justice! Don't worry, we did our part to keep the tower upright. Even Eva helped. ;)

Hurry up mom... This thing is heavy! ;)