Livorno, Tuscany

Sat, June 29

Buon giorno Livorno – gateway to spectacular cities like Pisa and Florence. To be different we decided to go to Lucca which about an hour’s drive away from the port.

Tuscany, home to sunflowers, olive groves and Andrea Bocceli … we enjoyed the views of the gently rolling hills, quaint farmhouses and vineyards with a tantalising view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the distance.

No sooner had we gotten off the bus, than one of the group fell over – we were worried that he had damaged his ankle, but he got up and kept going so it was good to know he was OK. Later on I noticed that he put some ice inside his sock so it must have been a little sore (timely reminder that when you are approaching 80 years of age, resist the impulse to jump over puddles!)

Our guide took us on a walking tour of this ancient city, some beautiful walls and lookout towers are still in evidence surrounding it, and the church of San Michele in Foro dating back to the 12th century has stunning Romanesque architecture featuring four colonnaded levels of gleaming white marble inlaid with a menagerie of real and mythical animals. We also came across a marble cathedral, Lucca Duomo, as we made our way through the twisting narrow streets. Lovely little shops as well and the people very friendly.

We enjoyed our time exploring and ended the day in a cafe with a good Italian coffee and a cannoli, discussing our day and how much there is yet to see.

This was our third and final stop in Italy and we reluctantly said Ciao!
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Thurs, June 27

This morning we woke up in Naples and opened our curtains to see the world’s most famous volcano, Mt Versuvius, from our balcony.

Our coach took us straight to the Amalfi Coast and all I can say is – WOW!!! We drove through miles of beautiful scenery, some of which we tried to capture but most we had to commit to memory as there are not a lot of places to park, although that doesn’t stop the locals. The road was so narrow that I have no idea how our coach driver negotiated it. We often had to stop and in one case, back up the coach, to avoid hitting a scooter parked on a bend.

There were tunnels through the mountains, dramatic cliffs which met the sea, lush landscape, lemon groves and we saw houses which were owned by Sting, Sophia Loren and Roger Moore.

We had seats right up front which gave us some great photos. (We’ve had some photos that haven’t turned out well due to the reflection coming off the coach windows.) However, when we were half-way along the coast road the tour guide got us to change seats. This was fair to the people sitting on the left-hand side, but our new seats did not give us the opportunity to get any more good photos, but believe me, the views were amazing!

We stopped at a beautiful restaurant and had an excellent lunch of cannelloni, chicken schnitzel and a delicious cake containing custard and local cream, as well as a selection of very nice Italian red and white wines.

After reaching Salerno, we turned back and made our way to Pompeii. Once again history was brought to life as we strolled along the cobblestone streets of this city which perished under as much as 50 feet of ash after Versuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The ruins, still being excavated today, were perfectly preserved by the ash and mud and offer a glimpse into the past with a network of buildings, brothels, shops, theatres, artwork and mummified bodies.

After dinner the waiters sang “Happy Birthday “and presented me with a chocolate cake and card. What a nice ending to a very enjoyable day!

Mt Versuvius

Mt Versuvius

On the road to Amalfi

On the road to Amalfi

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View from balcony of restaurant where we had lunch

View from balcony of restaurant where we had lunch

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