Italy - Day 6 : Lucca and Pisa
It was only a short ride to the next village. At a supermarket we bought some fruit and yoghurts and got a super fresh pizza at the bakery next door. It was the best we had the entire vacation. Today we would cycle to Pisa and then look around there the rest of the day. The entire day we saw signs for Lucca as well. We rode over a small road through a hilly and green landscape. It wasn't how I had imaged Italy to be but still very pretty. All roads in Italy seem built in the same way. There was a big city, than a 40 km long road going gradually uphill and passing through small villages. At the highest point there would then be an average sized city, with then again a 40 km long road going down hill to a large city.
When we woke up it was still 90 km until Lucca, but every time we saw a traffic sign the distance would shrink more than what we had cycled. In a small village we passed a bar where the local elderly were drinking coffee. Often those type of bars were combined with a small store, those were called 'café alimentari'. We entered to buy some more donut peaches, our favourite stable this trip. An old overweight man came to help us, but he didn't really know how the cash register worked, because that was his wife's job. After we had payed he was completely out of breath. Another man who spoke some English arrived to make a chat.
We continued, mostly uphill, until we arrived at a small store. We got some milk and ham. During previous vacations we never drank milk, but I figured that would be good to do as it has a lot of calories and protein. This vacation we ate the healthiest of all vacations any way, because we ate much more fruit. We couldn't find a bench so decided to cycle on. In the next descent all the milk suddenly flew down over the street. Apparently I hadn't closed my panniers properly. Fortunately everything was still in one piece and we soon found a picnic spot. In France there are designated picnic areas with benches and a table almost every 10 meters, but in Italy they are very rare. We were almost at the highest point between this morning and arriving in Lucca. From now on we would be cycle on a large road.
The Passo dei Carpinelli.
The road went downhill along a broad river. We passed through a few tunnels. Those are usually not very fun by bike, but we were happy we were at least allowed to go through them.
View along the way
At a large supermarket we bought ice cream, cola, desserts, and water for only 6 euros. The small stores in the mountains were usually a lot more expensive. There was also a roughly 45 year old man, I think from Australia, who wanted to buy a soccer ball. The cashier insisted she didn't want to sell it because they were supposed to be sold as a pair. The men left to find the other one. After 10 minutes he still hadn't found it, while we and a bunch of other people were all forced to wait. Finally some manager arrived and agreed to sell him the single ball. Bram and I both work in a supermarket on the weekends and were 100% we would get fired if we treated customers like that.
Along the way
Completely loaded with sugar we started the last 20 km to Lucca. I had heard from colleagues that it was a nice city. Bram didn't want to arrive in Pisa too early because then we would have nothing to do later today. I didn't mind because I wanted to explore Lucca. We entered through the old city gate and immediately noticed the city had a nice ambiance.
Everywhere were old buildings and narrow streets paved with large rectangular stones. We parked our bikes on a square. I stored their location in our GPS, otherwise we might not have been able to find them back. We walked through the city and passed a beautiful church made in a unusual style.
Chiesa di San Michele.
It was very crowded with tourists, but not in a bad way. We drank a bit on a terrace and went in search for our bikes.
It is about 15 km from Lucca to Pisa. At first it was flat and then uphill. During the descent the landscape changed. It was much less moist and there were more pine trees. It resembled the south of France. In the distance we saw Pisa. There were several towers but one was clearly the leaning tower of Pisa.
View of Pisa, with the leaning tower just right of the middle.
It took a bit of searching but we quickly found the tower. It was even more tilted than I expected. A French guy who was also on cycling vacation came to ask if we knew if there was a campsite in Pisa. There was one right next to the old center. We looked around a bit and took a photo with the tower and our bikes to prove we had made it here.
Bram at the Tower of Pisa.
Bart at the tower of pisa
All the tourists
The tower belonged to a cathedral that was surrounded by a lawn, just like the one in Vicoforte. There was a sign saying it was not allowed to walk on the grass, which everyone still did. The style of the churches was very different from those in the Netherlands and France. After seeing the tower we went in search for the campsite, so we could return without all our stuff. This campsite was a bit cheaper than the one on the coast, but we got a lot more space. First we showered as this was necessary after 350 km of cycling. We also charged all our devices.
At the campsite in Pisa.
We walked back to the famous tower. You could go into the tower, cathedral, and another building. For each you had to pay and were assigned a specific time to enter.
The Piazza del Duomo.
Cattedrale di Pisa.
First we entered the cathedral. It was huge and very beautiful, especially the ceiling. We still needed to wait an hour before we were allowed to enter the tower, but I was already starving.
Inside the cathedral
Battistero di san Giovanni
We quickly got some ice cream, it was real Italian gelato. I chose nutella and lemon ice. It was the best ice cream I have ever had. In the same street where a bunch of restaurants. Finally it was time, we were allowed to enter the leaning tower of Pisa. At the bottom we were first explained how it had been build.
Inside the tower of Pisa.
An unknown architect had built the first three layers in the 11th century. Those had sagged in the following decade. A hundred years later someone had come up with the idea to add another 4 layers, and yet another person had added the dome with four 7 bronze bells. The tower had not only tiled but had sinked a few meters down. Via a narrow spiral staircase we were allow up. The marble stair treads where worn out by about 5 centimeters. On one side of the tower we would scuff against the outer wall, on the other side against the inner wall. On top of the tower we sat down to enjoy the view while the sun was setting. We also had a great view off the cathedral.
View from the tower of Pisa
Bell of the tower of Pisa
View over Pisa.
It seemed like there was not that much else to do in Pisa, there were only a few more really old buildings. When we got hungry we went down the stairs again. In the street with all restaurants we found one selling an appetizer, pizza, and glass of wine for only 10 euros.
The street with all restaurants
It all tasted great, the one glass of wine made us drunk in an instant. After our meal we took some more pictures of the tower and cathedral in the dark.
The tower by night
Piazza dei Duomo by night
Back at the campsite another man on cycling vacation had arrived. He was even worse than Bram, because he didn't even had a bivy bag. Still wearing his clothes he slept on his matress, that was all he used. We didn't sleep well because some dogs were barking all night.
The route of day 6
Height profile of day 6, you can clearly see today's climb.
Distance cycled : 126 km