With my course load increasing at the Università di Firenze, taking a day to visit the nearby Tuscan hamlet of Lucca was an enjoyable reprieve. Leaving many photocopied packets and notebooks behind, myself and a friend hopped on the train early Saturday morning to leave the hustle and bustle of Florence behind us for a few hours.
Lucca perfectly encapsulates the charm and atmosphere of everything that is quintessentially Italian. A centuries old wall surrounds the city and its many piazzas, cafés, and cobblestone streets. One of the perks of being in Italy for me is that I have the chance to step inside so many historic and masterwork-filled churches, much to the amusement of the other students here. The city of Lucca was especially up my alley because Romanesque churches are quite literally around every corner.
Following the advice from my favorite travel guide and fellow Washingtonian, Rick Steves, my friend and I decided to climb up a tree-topped tower in order to get a better view of the city. After catching my breath and repressing a slight fear of heights, I looked out at the stunning panorama of the Tuscan countryside. So much of travelling in Italy is like stepping back in time and experiencing history in a tangible, concrete way. Looking out from the top of this tower, I couldn’t help but pretend the miniature figures strolling below me were actually Renaissance nobles or something of the sort.
For lunch, we happened upon a quaint restaurant at the end of an inconspicuous side street filled with locals. The pasta was superb and the environment had a friendly and communal vibe that made the meal unforgettable.
Visiting Lucca was a dream and definitely a highlight of my first semester abroad. Travelling locally and getting to see different facets of Italian culture has deepened my passion for it even more.