Florence 2020 Florence, Italy

#WednesdayswithaView Takes on Pisa & Lucca!

Welcome back to my blog! Though I’m writing today on a bit of a somber note due to the unexpected end of our study abroad, I hope that these updates are giving you a little something to be excited about. I’m now back home in the U.S. safe and sound, but I’m glad to still be able to share some memories from Florence with everyone.

For today, we’re going to hop back a few weeks to one of my favorite day trips out of Florence. Pisa and Lucca are two of the most well-known towns in Tuscany, and we set out one Friday to conquer them both. Today we’ll hit the “street view” first to treat you with some incredibly cringy pictures of the most recognizable bell tower in the world:                                

As if there weren’t already plenty of perks to being in Italy in the off-season, this was yet another. The fence where tourists line up to take these Instagram classics was nearly empty and we had time to take dozens of pictures with the famous tower, each more embarrassing and laughable than the last. I have never had so much fun making an absolute fool of myself; behind each of these pictures are many, many failed attempts to make them look good. Examples:

After flirting with the Leaning Tower a bit, we continued on to see it up close. We didn’t get the chance to climb it, but standing under it was daunting enough; it really does feel like it could fall over at any second!

Eventually, we met up with our tour guide to enter the adjoining cathedral. A beautiful example of Romanesque architecture blended with Arabic influences, it was lovely inside and—like the outside—uncrowded. We stretched out for a bit to relax on the grass in the sun before headed back to the bus to make our way to Lucca.

Lucca is smaller and lesser known than Pisa, but still incredibly exciting; it reminded me of a smaller, quainter Florence. It boasts of an ancient medieval wall surrounding the old town and a famous church tower with a garden on top. We ate lunch alongside one of the plazas, treating ourselves to pizza and Spritz before continuing off to explore the city. Saturday must have been market day because there was an entire complex of streets with stalls selling everything from knickknacks to antiques to ancient books. We spent a very long time exploring the treasures, especially the books, and as such completely lost track of time. Realizing we had missed the class trip up the well-known tower, a few of us decided to try to run to it before we had meet our bus.

However, in our rush, we ended up accidentally climbing the wrong church tower (thank you again, Italy, for your countless churches) and only realized once we had reached the top and saw the garden of the other, higher, correct tower across town. We had mere minutes before needing to meet our class, but Kim and I decided it was worth a try: we sprinted down the steps and through the streets filled with market vendors (eight minutes) and eventually reached the base of the tower only to keep running up the many stairs to the top (three minutes). But we had made it!

Though we didn’t have much time to take pictures, the top did have a beautiful shady garden to relax under and offered lovely views of the town and the surrounding hills. We laughed at seeing the tower we had just run from far away across town. Overall, a very unique spot for our “sky view”!

Though leaving Italy has certainly been disappointing, I’m so grateful for all of these memories to look back on. Though our time there may be tainted by the unexpected end, I am certain that all of us will treasure the memories we made, and I am very grateful that I could share them all with you.

Thanks again for joining #WednesdayswithaView! Hopefully it brought some smiles during this time of confusion. Stay healthy, everyone!

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