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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Landrum in Europe: Buongiorno, Italia!

May 25th, 2010

Our cruise ship docked in Livorno, Italy on the morning of the 25th, and just like the day before, Mr. L and I were up bright and early – except this time, we wouldn’t get to lounge around for half the day because we had sights to see and places to be!

Small portion of Livorno's port
We grabbed a nice breakfast from the large buffet and headed to the ship’s theater in order to meet up with our shore excursion group.  Our shore excursion for the day started at 8:45 AM and included Lucca, Italy and Pisa, Italy -- we were very excited to begin!

Lucca, which was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in 180 B.C., is a beautiful walled city nestled within the region of Tuscany.  Besides its still intact Renaissance-era walls, the city is also famous for having 99 churches residing within its limits.

Our tour began on the outskirts of the city among a beautifully green tree grove overlooking the entrance road.



Our guide said a few words about Lucca’s history, and then we hit the pavement to explore the paths and alleyways of the city itself.




Our first famous landmark was the San Michele in Foro, a Roman Catholic basilica church built in the Dark Ages (and later rebuilt after 1070 A.D.) on top of the old Roman forum.



It dominated the Piazza San Michele (subsequently named after the church) and was quite an impressive spectacle.


At the top of the San Michele stands a four meter tall statue of St. Michael the Archangel, rumored to have a huge diamond ring on his right hand.


On the lower right hand side is a statue of the Madonna salutis portus (“Madonna with Child”) sculpted by Matteo Civitali in 1480 to celebrate the end of the 1476 plague.


 Our guide spoke for a little while about the church’s history and importance as we gazed at the remarkable structure, and then we were off exploring the streets of Lucca once again.



After a little more time walking, we made it to the Piazza San Martino, home of the Duomo di San Martino (Cathedral of St. Martin), Lucca’s most famous church.


Our guide spoke a little about this church, and we were able to explore it up close and also inside.  On the outside of the cathedral were many carvings, including these depicting the life of St. Martin:


And these representing the months of the year:

Some months of the year are on the bottom row
Then there’s this statue of St. Martin -- and trust me, he’s not cutting off the beggar’s head!  He’s actually cutting off a part of his cloak to give to the beggar.


And there was also this, a carved labyrinth dating from the 12th or 13th century.  You can barely see it, but the Latin on the side says "This is the labyrinth built by Dedalus of Crete; all who entered therein were lost, save Theseus, thanks to Ariadne's thread."


We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the duomo, so you’ll just have to settle for me telling you it was very beautiful, even if there was a lot of scaffolding from renovation work they were doing!

After the Duomo di San Martino, we made our way to the Piazza Anfiteatro, built on the ruins of the Roman amphitheater that once stood in Lucca.



You'll notice that it's in a perfect oval shape!
 
Piazza Anfiteatro from Mrs. Landrum on Vimeo.

Finally it was time for us to explore Lucca on our own, so Mr. L and I wandered the narrow streets in search of lunch and a souvenir.  We ended up purchasing some small bottles of Luchessi extra virgin olive oil to take back to family :)

We also stopped at a little café in the Piazza San Michele called the Bar San Michele (obviously named after the piazza/duomo).


I ordered a delicious mozzarella, ham, and tomato sandwich on some wonderfully crusty, salty bread.


Mr. L had a salami sandwich on that same awesome bread.


After lunch, we headed back to the outskirts of Lucca to play around on the ancient Etruscan walls and snap some photographs.


You can sort of tell how sunburnt we were from our time in Monaco and France!

Love this picture -- it was such a gorgeous day!
Then we had to return to the tour bus and make our way to Pisa!

The walk up to Pisa was interesting, especially where the buses dropped off, thanks to a TON of people selling illegal goods like the purses in the bottom of the picture...
We didn’t get very much time in Pisa, so we were pretty much able to do only one thing – visit the Piazza dei Miracoli (“Square of Miracles”), home of the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Baptistry is the domed building and the Duomo and Tower are towards the back
It was interesting to see that the Leaning Tower wasn’t the star of the show in this gorgeous field at all; the Duomo (Cathedral) and the Baptistry are much more dominating, eye-catching, and beautiful.



The Tower (Campanile) just sort of stands in shadows of these overpowering buildings, yet is ironically one of the most well-known landmarks in Italy.


We ooh’d and ahh’d over the gorgeous detailing on the sides of the buildings, and we really took notice of how the Leaning Tower’s “lean” is more prevalent from certain angles.

 
The Leaning Tower of Pisa from Mrs. Landrum on Vimeo.

I really wish we would’ve been able to book a time to climb to the top, but we weren’t certain what time we’d end up in Pisa that day L  I bet the views were gorgeous though, because it certainly was a gorgeous day!

 
Piazza dei Miracoli from Mrs. Landrum on Vimeo.

Mr. L and I walked around the square, snapping pictures of ourselves (although we didn't capture the traditional "hold the tower up!" photo, haha).

Hello sunburn!



Our time in Pisa really was too short, and before we knew it we were heading back to the cruise ship in Livorno.

May 26th, 2010

We’d planned to go to Rome on this day, but after experiencing really bad sunburns from our excursions in Monte Carlo (we were FRIED and Mr. L possibly had sun poisoning) plus some awful cases of fatigue (we were SO exhausted after flying to Europe and going on two days worth of excursions) we decided we’d save Rome for the future when we’d really be able to enjoy ourselves without worry.

The thought of going back out into the sun (you can see in the pictures from Lucca and Pisa how burnt we were, especially Mr. L) was in a way depressing, so we spent the time enjoying relaxing on the cruise ship and not sticking to any itineraries for a day.

Civitavecchia and its port
The level our stateroom was on
Decor leftover from when the Jade sailed in Hawaii
It was really nice to sit on deck and just relax, look at the view, and read some books.  And I’m very glad we took this break, because the next day we were planning on exploring some ruins and climbing a volcano!  But for the moment, we just stared into the bliss of the beautiful Mediterranean and took a nap :)


*~*~*

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1 comment:

  1. [...] After having a relaxing day of no itineraries aboard our cruise ship, it was time to get back on schedule and tackle our last shore excursion of our Mediterranean cruise. [...]

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