Saturday, September 14, 2013

Noordam 2013 - Day 11: Livorno (Lucca and Pisa)

Livorno is a large industrial port. Of course a lot of cruise ships dock there, but the priority of the port authority seems to on the industrial side. So it is very hard to get to the city on your own. A shuttle bus can take you to town, but then you are still only halfway. So we were up bright and early because we had arranged for a driver from to pick us up at the pier. The driver took us to the furthest point of our day trip: Lucca. We work our way back from Lucca by public transport.

The driver told us everything about this part of Italy. He was very fluent in English. He showed us the mountain where they got the marble for the cathedral and tower of Pisa. On the other side of the road was the mountain where the stones for most of Lucca came from. Also a lot of information on everyday life in Italy and of course the political situation.

We arrived in Lucca at the San Piedro gate. Lucca is a city with walls dating from the renaissance period. A lot of locals (and tourists) ride the walls by bike. We walked about a quarter of the walls overlooking the botanical gardens and a lot of sights we would visit later when we were in the city itself. The walls are very wide and lined with trees, so lots of shade. It was a great walk with great views on the city.

Walking on Lucca's city walls

View on Lucca from the city walls


We descended from the walls close to Chiesa di San Francesco. From there we walked to Torre Guinigi. The Torre Guinigi is one of the two towers that can be climbed to get panoramic views of Lucca and the surrounding Apuane Alps. If you see a picture of Lucca with a tower that has some trees on top: that’s the one.

Torre Guinigi in Lucca

View from Torre Guinigi

View from Torre Guinigi

Lucca is beautiful. Lots of churches, squares and nice houses that are terra or ocher colored. The streets are quite narrow, so the public services have adapted: Small buses and a very sportive car for the mail(wo)man.

Lucca Mail delivery


After almost missing the Piazza Amfiteatro (hidden behind the surrounding houses) we went to Basilica di San Frediano. It has a beautiful 12th-century baptismal font. No flash allowed...

Piazza Amfiteatro in Lucca

Baptismal font in Basilica di San Frediano

From there we walked to Piazza San Michele. The Chiesa Di San Michele In Foro has a facade looking like a wedding-cake. All the way on top is a figure of the Archangel Michael slaying a dragon.

Chiesa Di San Michele In Foro

We passed the Chiesa de San Giovanni e Reparata and went to the Cattedrale di San Martino. We had a drink and a toilet-break at a restaurant opposite the cathedral.

Cattedrale di San Martino

The Lucca train station is only a 5 minute walk from the cathedral. We bought a train ticket to Livorno, but that was only our end destination later that day. We took the train to Pisa. 

Train from Lucca to Pisa

Pisa Centrale is the station where we had to change for the Livorno train, but we got out of the train one stop earlier at Pisa San Rosorre. From that station it is only an short walk to the famous Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).

Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) in Pisa

Of course we had to take the picture where we save the leaning tower from falling. We didn’t climb the tower. We read that the eur 15 a person is not really worth it. Instead we bought tickets to visit the Duomo. When they built this cathedral in 1064, Pisa was a harbor town like Livorno is now. We were especially impressed by the 14th-century octagonal pulpit in the north aisle (sculpted by Giovanni Pisano). Way better than the new altar they put in the cathedral a few years ago.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Kim saving the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Inside the Duomo, Pisa

We crossed the street to the Baptistery. Perfectly round building. Every 30 minutes, a custodian demonstrates the dome’s acoustics and echoes. The beautiful hexagonal pulpit is made by Nicola Pisano, the father of Giovanni Pisano that made the one in the cathedral.

Baptistery in Pisa

In Pisa most people (and most tours) only visit the Field of Miracles and leave again. We wanted to see a little more of the city. As crowded as the Field of Miracles was, as empty where the rest of the streets of Pisa. Soon we arrived at the Piazza dei Cavalieri in the university quarter of the city. This square used to be the most important part of Pisa.

Piazza dei Cavalieri in Pisa 

We wandered on to the area around Borgo Stretto, the city’s old medieval quarters. Just behind the Piazza delle Vettovaglie we crossed the river Arno (the same river that runs through Florence). On the south bank is the gothic church Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina in Pisa

We had covered enough of the city so we headed to the train station (Pisa Centrale). The regional train brought us to Livorno Centrale. Since we would not be able to reach the ship by foot, we took a taxi back to the port.

When we got back to the ship we saw a lot of Dutch trucks offloading their cargo. Probably the ingredients for our food. Talking about food: this afternoon they served a great Tuscan buffet.

Tonight’s show (with the regular Noordam cast) was not very spectacular. We like the guest entertainers more. So we went on to the karaoke with the HAL Cats and of course the pianoman Stryker.

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