Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Atlantic Adventurer Cruise: Day 20, Livorno, Italy

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Day 20, Livorno, Italy

It’s hard to believe that today is day 20 of our cruise, it has gone by so quickly.  Today we are in our first port in Italy, Livorno.  Livorno is in the Tuscany region and is near the well-known cities of Florence and Pisa.

Today we had to get up at 6:00 as we are taking a ship excursion to Lucca and Pisa that leaves at 7:15.  The ship docked at 7:00 and when we looked out our window the weather was heavily clouded and looked like rain.  The Neptune Lounge doesn’t open until 7:00 so this morning we went up to the Lido to grab a quick breakfast and then headed to the showroom to meet with our tour group.

An early morning in Livorno.
After meeting the rest of the group, we made our way to the bus and were on our way to the small city of Lucca, our first stop.  Lucca is located in the Tuscany area of Italy and is a very old city dating back to 180 BC.  Although the city has grown over the years, the old town is still surrounded by the walls of the 17th century.

We enter the old town area of Lucca through the surrounding wall.
Lucca is an interesting small town with the old buildings and winding streets we have become accustomed to, but it wasn’t as interesting as some of the other old villages we have visited.  The narrow streets were crowded with locals and tourists alike and the locals weren’t too happy to have groups of tourists blocking their streets and slowing them down on the way to school, work or errands.  We didn’t find the local Italians to be as friendly as the Portuguese or Spanish, but maybe I wouldn’t be too happy either with tourists blocking my way.

We spent a little over an hour walking around the town and of course, we took quite a few pictures.  We once again were issued receivers and a headset so we could hear what our guide was saying as he talked about the history of Lucca.  The weather was cool, but not too bad and the rain was holding off so far.  We were delayed leaving because one couple in our group never showed up at the appointed departure time and we ended up having to leave them behind.  I believe it turned out that they had decided to leave the tour and strike out on their own, but never let the guide know.

Our next stop was Pisa, which of course is famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but there is more to Pisa than just the tower.  Pisa is an ancient city dating back to before 180 BC when it became a Roman Colony.

Our luck ran out as we got off the bus and headed into the walled city area and it started to rain.  Not too hard, but hard enough for us to be glad to have worn our rain jackets.  It was quite a long walk from our bus to the area called the Miracle Square where all historical landmarks are.  The walk in was lined with booths of vendors selling every kind of souvenir you could ask for as well as people walking around trying to get you to buy everything from umbrellas to puppets.

We finally left all the vendors behind and reached Miracle Square.  You enter the square through gates in the wall that surround part of the square.  The first things you see are the Baptistery and Cathedral, both very large and very old buildings.  You can also see the Pisa tower poking above the cathedral.  The tower was originally built to be the bell tower for the cathedral and it actually started leaning soon after it was built.

We enter Miracle Square.

The Baptistery
The Cathedral

We went into the Baptistery first and were given a tour.  Evidently it is very famous for its acoustics as at one point a person got up in the center and sang, which was very beautiful with the sound echoing throughout the building.  Next it was off to tour the cathedral, which was also very old and large inside.  We spent quite a bit of time in there learning about its history and the meaning of the various paintings and sculptures.

Finally we exited the cathedral, went around its side and there was the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I must say it was more impressive that I thought it would be and I found it to be pretty interesting.  This is supposed to be the off season for tourists, but I would hate to see the busy season as there were a lot of people and they were all trying to get pictures of themselves in front of the tower (including us).  Luckily the rain had stopped so everyone was happy about that.

We had hoped to have some time to explore on our own, but this was a pretty structured tour and with the delay leaving Lucca, we were soon out of time and heading back to the bus.  There were two more people missing, but they showed up when we got back to the bus parking area.  Evidently the lady had fallen and gotten muddy and in the process of cleaning herself up, she and her husband lost track of the group and got lost trying to get back to the meeting spot.  It ended well as they walked up just as the rest of us were boarding the bus.  They said it was a scary time for them, but now they have a story to tell.

It was a short bus ride back to the ship and we were back on board around 1:00.  This was a nice tour, but not one of our best.  The guide was very good and we enjoyed our time with him and we did enjoy what we saw, but it is not something we would do again.  If we are in the area again we would probably choose to go to Florence.

A view from the bus.
After getting back to the room, Val and I were both starving and headed up to the Lido for lunch.  After that, it was back to the room for some rest; 6:00 AM is just too early for us.  I did take time to write the blog and download the pictures, but I felt pretty tired.  I hope that’s just from getting up early and not my cold getting worse.

I skipped trivia and the casino tonight, but did go to dinner and felt better after I rested for a while.  Tomorrow our port is Civitavecchia, Italy and we have a long tour planned to visit Rome so I hope I feel up to it.

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