pisa and lucca

I wrote this about two weeks ago yet never had time to post it, so here’s my beginning thoughts, feelings, and adventures. It’s interesting to look back now and see how things have changed.
Here I am, only two weeks and three days into my year long journey in Italy, living a joyful, culture rich life of traveling and fun. It is shocking when I think about how little time I have been here and how much I already love Italy. Living in Florence has definitely been an adjustment, as it is a tourist filled, somewhat polluted city. But the beautiful architecture, amazing food, friendly people, romantic language, and European energy make up for the busy, noisy streets. On Saturday September 13, our first travel weekend, myself and six others headed to Pisa and Lucca for the day. We started our day somewhat early catching the 9:00am train to pisa, after dramatically running up to and missing our original 8:30am train. After the short train ride to Pisa, we went to a cafe for our morning cappuccinos then explored the city. Pisa was filled with a fair amount of tourists and had many street vendors. I loved walking through and looking at the vendors and the other fun shops and meeting other travelers as well. When we walked to the leaning tower I was awe struck. I remember as a child hearing about the leaning tower of Pisa from my father and brothers when they traveled to the city years ago. I remember my dad brought me back a sweet, ceramic Pisa suviner. I broke the one I was given and found the same little ceramic pisa statue and bought it of course, this time I’ll give it to my dad when I get back from Italy just as he did for me when I was a child. After exploring around and taking various pictures in front of the tower myself and a friend went and sat in the grass near the beautiful church and took in the gorgeous scene around us. That afternoon we went to an adorable little restaurant all together. I got gnocchi, which were amazing! The food here never fails to amaze me, the great quality and rich flavor, it’s all dangerously delicious. After exploring the city for a bit more we all headed for a train to Lucca. On arriving to Lucca, which is about 30 minutes from Pisa, we we’re overcome with excitement as we saw the beautiful, quaint, mountain surrounded, walled city. The gorgeous city took me by surprise as I walked through the caramel colored brick streets. Shortly after our arrival we headed to a beautiful cathedral. I saw a beautiful statue of Jesus on the cross, surrounded by people. The statue, I found out was quite famous, and said to be the most life-like statue of Jesus and it was created in the Medieval Ages. It was a powerful moment looking at the figure, clothed in gold, looking purely sad yet loving at the same time. As I Iooked, I noticed there was a crowd forming around the statue. The church was filled with crowds of people, lines everywhere, police, priests, and cardinals. There was clearly something going on, I then discovered that the day of our arrival was in fact the night of a religious holiday celebration. Most of the group I was traveling with decided to leave that afternoon to head back to Florence because they were tired. I, on the other hand wanted to stay and see the religious precession that would take place that night. A girl named Haley decided to stay with me, but I would have gladly stayed and traveled back alone as well. That night more crowds of people gathered and small candelas, thousands of them were lit throughout the city. The beautiful lights surrounded every window of every building and lined the roofs and we’re spread throughout the windows and books of the religious buildings as well. I saw various people on cranes lighting the candles higher on the buildings. It was so interesting because in America I don’t think such a ceremony would exist because of fire safety. After a lovely sunset dinner in an adorable piazza, Haley and I joined the crowd of people and watched the beautiful procession. Hundreds of people, each holding a candle, singing beautiful music together for the religious festival. At dusk the illuminated city was breathtaking. I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have happened to have arrived in the city on the vary day of the festival. After the procession, we headed out of town and arrived back in Florence around 11:30pm. I was so full of joy and excitement after such a cultural experience. I cannot wait for more exciting adventures in my future travels throughout Italy. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

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