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Under the Tuscan Sun

by on August 7, 2012

From David:

Sorry to be offline for a few days…. we’re staying out late every night and just don’t have the energy to blog.

We’re having a very nice time in and around Lucca, a small town in Italy between Pisa and Florence.    Interesting to note that Lucca has over 100 old churches within its 600-year-old walled city area… they’re each trying to raise money to do some repairs but there just isn’t enough money to fix them all.

Here are the kids with their first “real” Italian Pizzas

As the “tour smart” guide says, you’ll never see ham or pineapple on a pizza in Italy (or cheddar cheese at all, or salad dressing that isn’t oil and vinegar)

We did a day trip to Florence…

(what this photo doesn’t show is that we had just walked about a mile from the church right behind us, across the river and up this big hill… and it was about 105 degrees.  We were melting!  Good preparation for  Rome next week!)

That church, the Basilica di Santa Croce, has tombs or monuments to some of Italy’s greatest minds, including Galileo

Michaelangelo

and Machiavelli

We had a great visit to this church… they had am amazing museum of all the historical artifacts from their basement and many other churches in town.  And we stayed in the church for 3 hours during the heat of the afternoon and listened to every item on the audio tour.

(The philosophical discussion of this day revolved around Machiavelli.  Through the whole trip, starting with King Henry VIII, the kids have really been perplexed by the concept of Power… why would people fight wars to have more power, what is power really, etc.  So today that became: why would someone bother writing a book teaching kings and princes how to have more power, and why do people have to be so mean and nasty in order to have power?  Difficult questions…)

On Sunday we took another nice side trip to Cinque Terre (“5 Terraces”), a string of 5 small villages glued to the cliffs above the Mediterranean

They originally had economies all based on grape vines and their unique local wine “Sciacchetrà”, but now it’s all about the tourists. We brought our swimsuits because we heard there’s a beach…. but we couldn’t see the beach through all the umbrellas!

But we did find a much less-crowded swimming hole at the base of one of the towns, and the kids dived in and had a nice swim, including seeing lots of schools of fish right below their feet

(Disregard the sunburned lady in front… the kids are in the water at the base of the rock in pink and blue)

Getting home on the train with 35,000 burned and hot and tired tourists was exciting… we had to sit on the floor of the train!  Our advice to other Cinque Terre visitors is… spend the night and come back at noon!

And then my parents met us in Lucca after doing a river boat trip through Germany and Switzerland…  as in Paris it’s nice to see someone we know who isn’t us, and we’re having a nice time exploring all the local history

… and having nice big lazy Italian dinners

Good time for all!

One aside…. in each country we’ve been reading one of the famous local books for bedtime stories… Sherlock Holmes in England, Three Musketeers in France, Don Quixote in Spain.  We weren’t sure what to read in Italy, but we discovered that Pinocchio was written in Lucca, so that’s our Italy book.  So of course we run into a lot of Pinocchio references….

The kids are being good and their noses are not growing!

 

From Alex:

I don’t know if dad told you about the “Teenagers that party: Blues Bits or Rude Gits” annoyance. We were trying to sleep while a concert was happening right under our window. The smoke and noise kept mom and I up from 11:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Mom and I were right next to the window and had to deal with it. Anna and Dad slept in that bed the night after and didn’t have to deal with partying. The Bottom line: Teenagers that party are rude, feathery gits.

In Florence, we took a 2 hour train ride there and another 2 hour back. It was 35 degrees c (95-100 degrees f). After the first church’s audio-guides easier to use then the Louvre’s but, taught me less that the Louvre’s (which was way less that the door-knob did, we decided after 30 seconds with the audio-guide that we would leave. We found another church that was more interesting. We got audio-guides, listened on the audio-guides, and Dad read us Pinocchio for 2 hours during the heat of the day. The church had museums and we were half way done with the museums, when mom noticed we had to return our audio-guides due to closing and had to get her driver’s license back.  Then, we walked up the hill to Michelangelo Park and took a cab to the station. We took the train home, had dinner, got ready for bed, and went to bed. P.S. The 2nd church had way better commentaries.

In Cinque Terre, we had a relaxing day. We got a walking pass (a transit pass between all of the stations also), walked to lunch (1 town down) saw this cool pool (turned out to be filled with fish and looked at the rest of the towns. On the path between town 1 and town 2, I complained that there was too much graffiti. At the end of the day, we went swimming with the fishes (two ladies were holding on to the safety rail talking on the entrance ramp and Anna along with 4 other kids slipped on the moss. I thought about kicking these people but then decided to enter via the ladder). A girl was on it who could not swim, so when I asked to get in, she got a floatie and then Anna and I could get in. Who knew it was a 3 minute process to get into a pool? Cinque Terre was an exciting day.

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4 Comments
  1. Aunt Donna permalink

    feathery gits??????? Alex – where’d that come from?

  2. Uncle Phil permalink

    Nice catch, Donna. It’s what we all feared–they’ve gone native. We’re now related to Euro-Trash!

  3. Uncle E permalink

    Eagerly awaiting update from Rome….!!?!!

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