Wine tasting in the medieval walled city of Lucca sounded pretty good to me – so I signed on the dotted line and before I knew it I was being whisked out of the very industrial port of Livorno and into the Tuscan hills. Lucca is a delight of narrow streets, cute restaurants and small hotels – but I wish we had not arrived so early in the morning. Shops were just opening up and it was garbage collection day. Not something you read about in the guide books. Somehow this added to the charm of the place – the fact that this ancient town is still a viable working city. Because of the narrow cobbled streets it is difficult to drive a vehicle and indeed some of the roads are pedestrian only – yes please can we have more of these streets. So most of the locals and many of the tourists make their way around the city on bicycles. You have to be pretty careful because there don’t appear to be many “rules of the road” and you could easily have your toes run over by a commuter dressed in high fashion and talking on a cell phone. I would have loved to have spent more time there – a good three or four days – to take in the sights, enjoy an espresso at one of the coffee shops and a meal at one of the restaurants. We peeked in at a local “deli” and the wonderful smell of cured ham, cheese and fresh bread was oh so tempting. You need to plan on doing a lot of walking – or something – for a Tuscan holiday or find a good way to work off the calories. From there we were treated to a wine tasting at a local vineyard accompanied by a typical Mediterranean lunch. Wonderful cheeses, local olives, cured ham, crispy bread and a variety of white and red wines followed by (for those who fear not) a sample of the local grappa. Mmmm – no wonder we all slept in the bus on our way back to the ship. Tuscany – I hear you calling me to come back…. Come back….and I will. I promise.
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