Before Rick Steves, back to last night: we ate outside by the water and it had more in common with Barbara's than originally thought...not a real warm night with that ocean breeze coming in. It was actually better than HMB, but still I had to bundle up during dinner. I had bruschetta pomodoro with the freshest tasting tomatoes, then tuna steak with sesame seed crust over rocket, which we have grown in our backyard. Matthew ordered a warm seafood appetizer crostini, but it was blended together and none too exciting to me. Then he had the black ravioli, which we figured was squid ink...also not to my taste. He liked it, but mine was a much bigger dinner. :-)
Today we changed our plans. Instead of going to Siena, we're doing that later in the week and went to Lucca and Pisa instead. I hadn't slept much at all last night, nor did he, so I thought it would be better to drive 1.5 hours to Lucca, then home from Pisa which is 1 hour away instead of 2+.
So why do I no longer trust Rick Steves' recommendations? We walked all over the town of Lucca to find the pizza place he says is the one locals go to—they only do pizza, “but do it well.” No they don't. It was awful....runny sauce, canned mushrooms, crust not cooked enough. Yick. We had hoped to see the festival they have this time of year, but it's a religious procession tonight and the faire is tomorrow, with fireworks at 11 tonight. Forget it...too late for us.
So we headed to Pisa. I have to say, the tower is beautiful. I love the architecture and the lean is quite impressive. We bought tickets for the duomo, but not the rest in that area. Quite frankly, I can only do so many churches....they're not my thing. Seen one, seen them all...and this one was no exception. I had more fun watching everyone take pictures of every little thing. I also got a kick out of everyone doing the picture of them holding up the tower, so I held up a painting in the church instead. Never one to go along with the crowd, you know.
Just prior to walking into the church, little rain drops appeared. By the time we were done in there, bigger ones were falling, so we decided to head to a piazza several blocks away for gelato—another of RS's suggestions. We got about half way there when it started to really pour. We hung out in a doorway until it let up slightly, but then as it really came down in buckets, we again found shelter. It was an open building with offices around the inside and entrances on either side with an open ceiling in the center, so rain poured in from there and on either side. Just over the other side from us was the Arno river and we could see it pouring even harder on that side. We kept waiting for it to subside so we could march out to the piazza, but it never did....and then the thunder and lightning began. Once it was so close together, it shook the building and kaboomed loudly in our ears. That would have been fun except for one thing—I discovered today that my windbreaker is really just that and NOT A RAIN JACKET, as I had erroneously thought. It was perfect for New Zealand, but apparently it didn't rain there, so I never realized it wasn't waterproof. I was pretty soaked and getting cold.
We agreed to find a taxi to take us back to our car, which was at the bus station outside the old town. You can't park inside the old town unless you're a resident, so we came in by bus. But to return to where the bus would pick us up, even with our round trip ticket, was too far to get back to....
No taxis came by, so I went into the only office that had someone in it and asked if she could call one for us. Fortunately, she spoke English, and said since it was an emergency—guess she could tell by my hair and clothes—she'd make the call. It sounds like they're not supposed to make outside calls. The line was busy busy busy, so we talked about getting to a bus. The end result was she was able to get through after trying many times, gave us a paper with where we needed to go to give to the driver, and even waited outside with us for the cab. What a good Samaritan!
We drove back in rush hour traffic out of Pisa, then more rain, lightning, thunder....what a trip. We were exhausted by the time we got back, so opted to eat in the pizzeria here on the property, which turned out to have great food. No pizza for us—had my fill today on that bad choice. This place has wild boar and rabbit on its menu, so definitely not just a pizzeria. We have reservations for Florence tomorrow night, so hope to leave fairly early tomorrow. It's about a 2 ½ – 3 hour drive. And who knows how the weather will be? This place is like El Granada; one day, you're in your bathing suits and the next, get out the raincoat!