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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ports of Call: Pisa & Lucca

It's hard to believe three months have passed since our Mediterranean cruise. Or that it's taken me this long to report back on each of the stops! #badblogger I think I subconsciously drag them out so I don't have to admit to myself the trip is over. But at the same time, creating these posts takes me back...and in the case of Lucca, I can still remember the quiet of the alleyways, feel the mist of the rain, and the taste of the homemade pasta.

Florence, Italy was the final stop on our Mediterranean cruise (after Sitges, Cartagena, Marbella,  Provence, and Portofino), and since we've seen (and loved!) Florence (read that Trip Report here), we decided to venture out a little further in the Tuscan countryside, to the lovely town of Lucca.

Since we were fortunate enough to have a private car and driver as our guide at this port, we decided to make a quick stop in Pisa along the way. Yep...there's the tower, and she's leaning alright!

I was surprised by how small it is, and shocked at the degree at which it was leaning! But even more startling are the crowds, and the rate at which they multiply! We almost had the place to ourselves when we arrived around 8:30am (hence the limited number of people in my pics), but it was crawling with selfie-stick wielding tourists and buses an hour later. 

Sugarplum Tip: Go early, see the tower if you must, and move along. 

On Mr. SP: Pullover | Jeans | Sneakers

We quickly hopped back in the car, and our driver dropped us at the gates of peaceful Lucca a short time later. The narrow cobbled streets of Lucca's city center are hidden behind imposing Renaissance walls, and stepping through the gates is like going back in time. Gorgeous piazzas, shady promenades, and historic cafes are easily explored by foot, as either a day trip from Florence, or in its own right.

Broad, tree-lined pathways line the tops of the massive walls encircling the city, making them perfect for strolling or biking the perimeter of this peaceful town. My hope was to bike the walls, but a light mist made things pretty slick, so we wandered the quiet streets on foot, stopping for cappuccinos along the way.

Our guide suggested we head to a traditional Tuscan farm and vineyard for a late lunch, and I literally swooned at the idea! And maybe squealed. There's no question a private car for day excursions is pricey (thank you, Princess Cruises for that luxury!), but it allows you to cater the day around your exact interests, and utilize your time in port to the fullest.

For instance, in Provence, we told the guide we wanted to see true Provencal life, outside the areas of tourism, and experience as many of the villages as possible. (See the recap here.) When we met our guide in Livorno (the nearest port to Florence), we asked for quaint villages, beautiful countryside, and a delicious Tuscan meal. Both guides delivered perfect days beyond anything we could have planned on our own.

We spent the afternoon feasting and exploring at Fattoria Il Poggio, a family vineyard and restaurant that makes its own wine, oils, soaps and candles. It was as magical and delicious as it sounds!

On the way back to the ship, we paused for a quick walk through the small village of Montecarlo...another spot we'd never have found on our own. In a word, the day was perfect.

The entire trip was spectacular, not just for the amazing itinerary and experiences, but for the new friendships made with my fellow bloggers. A huge thank you to Princess Cruises for inviting me on such an adventure, and to you for making it possible!! This post wraps the last of my ports of call, but we extended the trip on our own, and up next is the most breathtaking locale of them all...the Amalfi Coast! 

Which was your favorite Mediterranean stop? I hope to write a packing post, but for those of you asking, you can use this post as a guide to what I packed and wore.

{More Posts from this Trip}


  1. Wow, that brings me back! We were there in 2005 - we rented bikes in Lucca and drove them into Pisa. It was breathtaking! Hands down, Italy is my favorite country - after my own sweet Canada, of course! :-)

  2. Pisa isn't given as much love as some other Florentine towns. We took the train from Cinque Terre to Pisa and stayed overnight due to a 5:45am flight to Milan the next day. Go beyond the Leaning Tower and walk the cobblestone streets near the University and the river; just gorgeous!!

  3. Gorgeous! When we traveled to Italy we decided to skip Pisa but have thought about going to some of the other places you mentioned on our next trip. Can't wait to hear about the Amalfi Coast!


Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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