Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lucca Lucca

There are two Luccas,  Lucca dentro, inside the ancient walls (the locals call it Lucca Lucca) 
and Lucca Fuore, the Lucca outside the walls; roomier, greener, but with less history and charm. 

Our apartment is on a tiny medieval street in Lucca Lucca: this is out our window.  Note the guy on his telefonino - everyone is always on their telefonino.  On their bikes, in their cars,'s a miracle there are no collisions when the streets fill with pedestrians and bikes (and the occasional car despite the myth that Lucca Dentro is a pedestrian-only zone), all on their phones, but so far so good.
We joke that by law all the shutters are painted dark green.  And all the windows have shutters.  All.  We're in a great location, but being on the first floor (the second to Americans) on such a narrow street, surrounded by four story buildings so close you can almost reach across the street and hold hands with your neighbor, it's a bit dark.  We're in a canyon.

Spacious, modern and comfortable, great kitchen,
and with room for bikes. 
Giusto, the best bakery in Lucca is next door,
So it takes us a while to get going in the morning.

But eventually we get to Chrono bikes - crowded, warm and welcoming, fabulous Pinarello bikes outfitted with Campy for rent, and run by the winner of the Steve Baillie look-alike contest. 
The owner is the fastest mechanic in the west, knows by looking at us our size and seat height, has our pedals on in one minute, maps out routes for us, and we're on our way.  (Apparently he's had customers even older than we are.)
Thankfully there are dozens of cyclists out - the map is a little unclear on how to get out of the city.  But with some help we make it and are in spectacular rolling countryside.
Michael Balaban wants to buy a vowel...who knew there was a village in Italy named for him?
We ride to Lago Montecciuccolo, miss a turn and suddenly it's steep and lorries are thundering by.  
We survive.  Great day.

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