Onwards to Lucca

by Andrew Stein

Our last morning in Oriveto is spent underground. Orvieto hides caves and tunnels in the volcanic rock on which the city is build. In these underground passages that were originally mainly accessible by private homes above, we find wells, stairs, quarries, cellars, pigeon farms, and more. After a tour of the underground and a quick haircut, we are ready to make the drive north to Lucca.

For our lunch stop on the road, we pause our drive in Montevarchi, a very quiet town where everyone has seemed to disappear during lunch hours. Although the options are limited, with the help of TripAdvisor’s seven reviewed restaurants, we find Daniele e Riccardo, a hidden restaurant near the center of town. We grab a table and the waitress’ first question is if we speak English. Initially, I only realize that she has a strong accent, which I reasonably assume to be Italian. We answer yes, we do speak English, and that is when I realize her accent is not Italian, but instead Northern European. Our waitress, who is from Denmark, speaks much better English than Italian, and has found her way to this small town for two weeks because she won a contest back home. We enjoy several great appetizers along with a lot of bread, olive oil and vinegar before continuing on our way.

mom, dad, and me in lucca

It is at this juncture that the primary driving responsibilities shift from my Dad to me. He is still a bit jet-lagged and the aggressive Italian driving style isn’t ideal in his tired state of mind. The first time I have driven since driving down to Southern California from the Bay Area before leaving the States was last night when we drove back from Perugia. The car is an automatic and easy to drive, and I enjoy getting back behind the wheel. We get to Lucca in the mid-afternoon, find our apartment, and before doing anything else, we go to the tourist office to start planning our week. We come up with many activities, especially evening activities, we grab a couple maps so that Dad can maintain his map folding prowess, and we set off to bravely explore the town of Lucca. We grab some gelato followed by dinner followed by a formal ballroom dancing display in a public piazza before heading back to the apartment to crash.

Known for its well-maintained city walls, Lucca started as an Etruscan city then a Roman colony in the second century BC. Beginning in the 12th century, the city was an independent republic for about five hundred years. A couple fun facts are that the famous Italian poet Dante spent some of his exile within the wall of this city, and composer Giacomo Puccini was born here.

Puccini statue