Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Extended Travel Report: Italian Holiday 2015 - Day 2

(Warning: Photo spam ahead)

I woke up at 4:30am on our second day in Pisa, thoroughly refreshed and ready to embark on a real holiday. It was surprisingly already bright outside! After lounging around the apartment for a while, we decided not to wait any longer and began our day. Our main destination for the day was Lucca, a small town nearby that we had to reach by train. We wanted to get ourselves acquainted with Pisa so we decided to walk all the way from our apartment to the Pisa Centrale station.

Giddily, we left the apartment at 7:15am. First stop: the Leaning Tower complex!


I can't even begin to tell you how elated I was to finally get to see the famous Leaning Tower. The whole time I was referring to the tower as (pardon my French) 'that shit' because it was such a milestone for me. And we didn't know at the time but our timing was perfect because the crowd was yet to form, practically no one was there and we got to enjoy the complex and all its glory, all by ourselves.

We continued walking on the streets of Pisa, passing by many piazza, monuments, and so many interesting buildings along the way until we finally reached Arno river. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

A dog in Pisa

A cinema in Pisa

Arno river

Arno river

After crossing the river, we decided it was time for breakfast. It was early but thankfully many bars had opened. They offered pretty much the same thing so we just picked one randomly and ended up at this place called 'Bar Caffe Centro Storico'. I ordered a typical Italian breakfast which consists of a cup of cappuccino and a pastry. My friend got herself a panino. We paid 11 euro in total. A little bit expensive, in my opinion. I think it was exacerbated by the fact that it was on a touristy street and that we chose to sit outside but anyway...the highlight of the meal was the pastry. The filling was some kind of rice custard with orange zest which is not really common in Singapore.

A very Italian breakfast

After we finished breakfast, we continued walking to Pisa Centrale station which was about 15 minutes away. An officer helped us buying the tickets from the automachine and before we knew it, we were on the train to Lucca!

Rose canopy near the roundabout before Pisa Centrale

A modern-looking apartment building near the roundabout just before Pisa Centrale

A plaza / roundabout just before Pisa Centrale
A plaza / roundabout just before Pisa Centrale

Pisa Centrale station

I don't remember how long the journey was, it couldn't be more than 30 minutes, I think. Lucca is this tiny beautiful town completely surrounded by Renaissance-style city walls that has remained intact till this day. There is a tourist office just outside the train station. We purchased a map from a machine for 2 euro there.

Lucca train station

Corridor outside the train station
 There are several gateways or 'porta' to the city, we went in through Porta San Pietro which was the closest we could find from the station. There were rose bushes at the gate, so beautiful!

Porta San Pietro

Rose bushes outside Porta San Pietro

Once inside, we just walked to anywhere our hearts took us to. The following are photo spam of so many beautiful sights we saw in Lucca, for your enjoyment:

Look at that tiny Sephora! Isn't it cute?

The pathway along the city wall

Porcelain shop

Villa Bottini

Villa Bottini

Still a little bit intimidated by restaurants and unfamiliar mealtime habits in Italy, we decided to just get some gelato and panini for lunch. It was not a bad decision! This simple lunch was one of the most memorable meals I had in Italy. I think they cost me about 10 euro.

Lunch in Lucca

Fruits seller in Lucca

Look at the cherries!

One of the must-see places in Lucca is the old Piazza Anfiteatro. I'd seen pictures of it so many times before so it was one of those pinch-me moments when I finally set foot there. It was just beautiful!

Piazza Anfiteatro

Piazza Anfiteatro

Piazza Anfiteatro
 We then decided to do our first souvenir shopping at one of the shops at the Anfiteatro. The shop is called Le Sorelle which means sisters in Italian. They sell toilettries and beautiful girlie things such as aprons, lamp shades, dish towels, and many more. Their soaps are wonderful. I recommend 'Toscana' and 'Foglie di Pomodoro', the former smells very Italian while the latter is quite unique as it smells like tomato leaves, fresh and tangy.

After spending almost half a day in Lucca (my pedometer read 33,000!), we went back to the apartment to drop off our loot and rest for a little bit then...we headed back out again to check out the main shopping street in Pisa: Corso Italia, but not before having another gelato, of course. We thought we'd give this refreshing green apple flavor a try.

However, as we were quite tired, the shopping didn't yield much purchase and so we decided to have dinner in Borgo Stretto. We had been warned not to order any meals with pictures because it means they are made from frozen food but we didn't heed the advice and went and ordered a plate of bucattini. It was true, the bucattini had hard pieces that stuck together as if they weren't being heated up evenly. However, the other two dishes that I ordered were great. The classic appetizer of Parma ham and melon was delicious and abundant, and the fish and potatoes that I ordered (off the menu with no pictures in it) was also delicious. It was a simple grilled white fish with cubed potatoes, tossed in oilve oil, salt, and lemon juice.

Parma ham and melon

Fish and potatoes


It was almost 9:00pm but it was not that dark yet, I'd never experienced something like this in Asia so it was interesting.

On our way home, we took the opportunity to visit the Leaning Tower complex again as it was on the way. It was simply majestic and there was the sound of a choir practicing in the background that sort of enhanced our experience =D

By the time we reached the apartment, it was completely dark outside.

The street near the Leaning Tower complex

Laundromat nearby

A kebab seller

PAM at night

The street where we were staying

And that concludes our second day in Italy.

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