After learning about the Etruscans the previous day, I was curious to see where the artifacts had been discovered.  A guided walk around the Etruscan necropolis of Sovana added another piece to the mysterious puzzle of Etruscan society.  A hike through a wooded area and along a sunken road carved into volcanic rock took us to an ancient burial site at Citta del Tufo.

This area has been populated by man since the Stone Age, and it was fascinating to see the 3,000-year-old Etruscan tombs in the park.

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

The town of Sovana
This sunken road was cut into volcanic rock.

Pitigliano, our next stop, was originally settled by the Etruscans and was once home to a thriving Jewish population that had settled there in the early part of the 16th century.  Although they were in Italy long before the Christians, they were persecuted in the 1500’s because of their beliefs, and forced to move from their homes into a designated area.  They weren’t free until the unification of Italy in 1861; however, over the years that followed, many left the area for larger cities, mainly for economic reasons.  By World War II, there were only about 60 Jews left in Pitigliano.  When the Nazis came, those who remained hid with five families in their homes.  They were then moved to caves for safety, and the community worked together to bring them supplies and food.  All of them survived; however, the 22 Jews who left town before the Nazis arrived were captured and killed.

After the war, only 30 Jews returned, and the families who protected and hid the Jews were given medals.  Today, there are only three Jews left, including a lady in her 90’s who has worked diligently to preserve the Jewish history of the town of 4,000 people.

During our walking tour, we visited the Jewish synagogue and caves where the Jews had been hidden.  It now serves as a museum.

This is my view of Pitigliano:

The symbol of Pitigliano
Entering the Jewish Ghetto
Another entrance to the Jewish Ghetto
Caves where the Jews were hidden from the Nazis
Our group
A Jewish wedding in Pitigliano. The young girl to the left of the wine bottle is the oldest remaining Jew in Pitigliano, now in her 90’s.
This photo in the museum shows a woman making matzo for Passover.
A look down from the museum to the Jewish cemetery below.
Our luck finally ran out when we had our first rain of the trip during the day. It was the only time we needed our umbrellas– and, only for a short time.
The store owner wraps up our only souvenir (besides chocolate!) of the trip: an olive oil dispenser that looks like a small flower watering can.
A scene of the Tuscan countryside captured from the bus window.
Another scene captured from the bus window on our way back to Pienza.
Our group went out for a pizza dinner, and we laughed at the way this pizza was made. All of the toppings were separated, and the olives were whole!

Next up: Poking Around Perugia


On our way to Montepulciano, we stopped to visit the Museo Civico Archeologico Di Sarteano, an Etruscan museum.  The Etruscans were ancient people dating back 3,000 years and lived between Florence and Rome.  Women were equal to men in their society, something I could get behind!  It was also a hedonistic society; they enjoyed life to the fullest!

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

The museum, housed in a former 1700’s wine cellar, had a fantastic collection of ceramics, jewelry, weapons, and other artifacts collected by archaeologists.  In most cases, the ceramic bowls and vases had been found in pieces, and then meticulously pieced back together with clay by a team of ten volunteers, over a 25-year period.  If two broken pots were found together, the tiny pieces had to be matched by color and texture, and then put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. 

Following our tour of the museum, we watched these artists in action, piecing together the latest treasures acquired in archaeological digs.  First, however, we got to play with some clay and design our own “treasures” (which we all left behind…).  Not wanting to keep unfired clay (which was sure to end up a mess), I took photos instead.  Coincidentally, when the staff passed out clay stamps to create our works of “art,” the woman handed me one of a dolphin.  How did she know???  It was a perfect match for this dolphin-loving swimmer!

Bruce added his name at the bottom using the alphabet guide,.

Observing the pottery being pieced back together and touring the museum was fascinating, because these artifacts are all the experts have to go on to understand the Entruscan people.  There is no literature, so the history of their civilization is shrouded in mystery.  The only clues are the weapons, cooking implements, building tools, and other treasures they left behind.

The immaculately preserved medieval town of Montepulciano was our next stop, where we walked the historic street of Via San Gallo and visited Cantina Fattoria della Talosa, a beautiful winery.  Located in the old town, the wine is aged in an underground cellar between two of the oldest buildings of Montepulciano, dating back to the 16th century.  Sixty steps down, we arrived at the cellar 90 feet below the street where we enjoyed tasting five different wines paired with foods of the region.

As with each day on an Overseas Adventure Travels tour, there was time to explore on our own; so, I poked around the streets to take a few photographs.

On our way back down the hill to Pienza, we stopped to see San Biagio, overlooking the Tuscan countryside below.  Built in the early 1500’s the domed church was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, an Italian architect.

We bid Arrivederci to our wonderful driver, Cesare, and took on another driver the following day. Cesare and our tour leader, Ben, were a fabulous team!

Coming up next:  SOVANA & PITIGLIANO


(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

Following our day in Siena, we traveled 32 miles southeast to the Tuscan town of Pienza, our base for three nights.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this quaint town of 3,500 residents is located on the crest of a hill overlooking the beautiful Val d’Orcia.

Our first view of Pienza from the bus

Established during the medieval period as Corsignano, the town was redesigned and renamed in the late 15th century by Pope Pius II.  He enlisted the architect Bernardo Rossellino to transform the town to a blend of Renaissance and Gothic styles, and renamed it Pienza, which translates to “city of Pius.”

It was love at first sight!  During our short orientation walking tour before dinner, Bruce and I were charmed by Pienza’s historic city center and were in awe of the breathtaking views of the valley below.  We looked forward to exploring it further the following day, upon our return from Montepulciano.

Here is our first look at Pienza, the evening we arrived:

Entering the historic city center
Huge stone walls surround the city center

Several of us joined Ben on an optional walk after we returned from Montepulciano.  The path we took bordered the town on the edge of the hill overlooking Val D’Orcia.  The views were spectacular, and we came across an interesting cemetery along the way.  I was intrigued by the effort loved ones made to keep each plot well-maintained and full of beautiful potted or planted flowers.

Following our group walk, Bruce and I continued to explore the historic city center on our own, walking literally every street within the walls.  As Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  And, that we did.  Every. Single. One.  So much pride and charm; from the doorsteps of homes to the adorable shops, it was quintessential Tuscany at its best!

PIenza is known for its excellent pecorino cheese



I’m back, after stepping away from my blog to tour Utah’s Grand Circle of National Parks and a few state parks—the topic of my next blog series.

Meanwhile, there is so much more to write about Italy, so I will continue where I left off: Siena.  What a special and unique place this is!  If you have ever been to New Orleans and learned about its unique history, culture, and traditions; you would have to agree there is no other place like it.  The same can be said for Siena, especially its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Paved with cobblestones, the city is built over five hills and has a unique districting system.  Each of its 17 districts, or contrade, is named after an animal or symbol, such as a rhinoceros, goose, snail, or giraffe.

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The rhinoceros is the symbol of Contrada Della Selva

These contrade were originally set up during the Middle Ages for military purposes when Siena fought to preserve its independence from Florence.  Over the years, they became a source of civic pride and patriotism. Within the contrada, everybody looks out for each other as an extended family.  Each contrada has their own symbol, colors, flags, motto, museum, church, fountain, and festivals; and, most importantly, a horse entered in the all-important and most-celebrated festival of all, the Palio.  These people live for the summer Palio, an approximately 70-90-second bareback horse race of three laps of mayhem around the dirt-filled Piazza del Campo that takes place on July 2 and August 16.  The turns are sharp, and it’s typical to see jockeys thrown off their horses.  No worries; it’s the horse that wins, not the jockey, and riderless horses have won on several occasions. 

Green and orange are the colors of Contrada Della Selva as shown in their museum display.
Contrada Della Selva displays green and orange flags in their church.
Contrada Della Selva’s baptisms are conducted in this fountain.

Anything goes during these races, including trying to knock a rival jockey off his horse.  It’s chaos, and the celebration afterward is as crazy as the race itself.  The winning contrada hosts a very festive banquet in their streets, and the alcohol flows.  They are awarded with a banner that gets displayed in their museum.  Local artists compete for the honor of designing the winners’ banner for the July race, and international artists compete for the August race banner.

This banner was won in the 1611 Palio.

What’s even crazier than the actual race is the shenanigans (“legal corruption”) that takes place before each Palio.  District members donate money to help buy a good jockey, and the jockeys negotiate (bribe?) to get a better pole position or conspire to block another horse.

Piazaa del Campo, home of the Palio horse race

Check out 2022’s Palio here.  You have to see it to believe it.

As we walked through a few of the contrade during our walking tour, I got a sense of team spirit and community.  Homes displayed their contrada’s flag and symbol; and, there was a palpable pride within each district, especially if they had won a past Palio.

Visiting the Siena Cathedral was another memory that stood out for me.  Dating back to the 1200’s, it was an amazing work of art—especially the inlayed stone floors that were created in the 1300’s.  There were entire scenes and stories depicted in large rectangular areas of the floor that were stunning—and something usually created as painted murals on cathedral ceilings.

On the way to Siena Cathedral
Looking through an opening of the facade of the unfinished section of the cathedral
Inside the cathedral
Inlayed stone floors of the cathedral

During our morning walking tour, we toured Basilica di San Domenico
Inside Basilica di San Domenico
This used to be a church, but it now houses stables for their contrada’s Palio horses!

One thing I especially appreciated about touring with Overseas Adventure Travel was the free time allotted in each place for independent exploration.  We took advantage of this in Siena, opting to grab a pizza slice on the go rather than dine in a restaurant, so we could visit the cathedral and roam through a few contrade.  There was even time at the end to enjoy a gelato and watch the dogs walking their owners in the Piazza del Campo.

Shields representing each of the 17 contrade
The plate on the right depicts the 17 contrade
Italy is known for making beautiful paper.



As you have probably noticed throughout my past thirteen posts about Italy, food and wine has been prominently present in our Italian experience.  This day was no different; it was all about olive oil and pasta.

The day began with a visit to Pruneti, an award-winning producer of organic extra-virgin olive oil.  Before tasting their olive oils, we were given a tour and shown how the olives are processed.

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

Some of the finest extra virgin olive oil in the world come from the Chianti region of Tuscany where Pruneti is located.  Having been in business for the past 150 years, they have figured out how to produce the best.  They are the only producer in the Chianti region that controls the entire olive-to-bottle process.  Their 3,500 trees produce about 70,000 liters of olive oil each fall. 

When you are shopping for olive oil, don’t be fooled by “Extra Virgin” on the label by assuming its good quality.  As our guide explained, labels do not indicate quality, because there is no industry regulation of label information.  Poor-quality olive oil has solvents in it, and unfiltered oil will age quicker.

If the label has “DOP” and “ICG” stamps on it, the oil has been inspected and certified that it is not a fake and comes from the Chianti region.  It still, however, does not indicate the taste quality.  The only way to make that determination is to smell and taste it.

For the best quality, the oil should not be kept any longer than eighteen months from when it was bottled, and it should not be stored in the refrigerator.  Store it in a dark, cool place instead. 

The oil should also smell fresh of vegetation and cut grass; and, not taste bitter.  If the oil tastes spicy, like black pepper, it is good quality oil and good for cooking.  Spiciness indicates the best quality; use the spiciest oil for heavier food, such as red meat, and lighter oil for lighter food, such as seafood.

Our guide also added that we shouldn’t waste good-quality oil by mixing it with balsamic vinegar for dipping in bread or on salads.  As a former bartender (years ago!), I would compare that to mixing top-shelf liquor with Coke or Sprite! 

A suggestion:  Use an affordable basic extra virgin olive oil for cooking, and a better-quality olive oil as a finishing oil to drizzle on top of your prepared dish.  Keep smaller bottles on hand to match with different types of food.  (In the U.S.A., a liter of olive oil priced around $25 is one, we were told, you can trust to be good quality.)

Back to that term, “Extra Virgin,” that means it’s the first pressing of olives with no added chemicals, usually cold pressed.  Pruneti picks their olives by hand, and then presses them within four hours of picking.  (Poor-quality oil is pressed 2-4 weeks after picking.)  The entire olive is pressed, and a centrifuge is used to separate the liquids from solids.  Another centrifuge then separates the oil from water and filters it—an important step, because unfiltered oil can ferment due to the sugars in water.

In earlier years, stone presses were used, but not any longer.  Over the past 50 years, the production process has changed dramatically.  Only machines are used now, because stone presses produce poor-quality oil.

The total process from beginning to end only takes about 35 minutes.  Quickness is the key to the best-quality oil.

Following our olive oil tasting, the group visited Cristina and her husband’s beautiful 1,000-year-old home in the Chianti countryside, for a cooking class and lunch. We first gathered on the terrace for a glass of Prosecco and bruschetta before moving to the kitchen to prepare lunch and learn how to make pasta.  To be perfectly honest, Bruce jumped right in while I just watched and took pictures. 

Lunch was fabulous, and the experience was a lot of fun!

Later in the afternoon, we visited the town of Greve, headquarters of the Chianti region for wine festivals.  On the day we were there, antiques and crafts were the feature of the day’s festival, instead.

We enjoyed exploring the town center, and it was wonderful being surrounded by locals—or at least Italians—rather than tourists, as we were in Florence.  Being in Greve was an authentically Italian experience, which I appreciated!

Coming up (later in the month): The Scenic Streets of Sienna


Chianti is a mountainous area of Tuscany known for its world-class wine production, cured meats, cheeses, and fine cuisine.  Florence, where we spent much of the day (shown in my previous post, Italy #12), is located in Chianti.  After we departed Florence, we headed out into the countryside towards our home for the next three nights, Villa Il Leccio

The Chianti countryside is beautiful—rolling green hills, vineyards, and scenic vistas around every turn.  When we arrived at Villa Il Leccio, we were delighted to see that the views were stunning, and the villa was gorgeous.

Giada, the owner, and her nephew, welcomed us warmly.  After we settled in, we were gathered on the terrace for a champagne reception, followed by a guided tour.

The villa has been in Giada’s family for 300 years; however, the building dates back to the 1200’s.  When the Landi family purchased the villa in the eighteenth century, they used it as a country residence where the family gathered in the summer.

In the 1800’s, the land was cultivated into a prosperous farm.  The villa was then converted by Giada’s mother into a country resort in 1998.

Villa Il Leccio is the most charming place we have ever stayed, and meals there were memorable. Breakfasts and dinners were prepared by Giada and served by her nephew.  In the morning, there was a beautiful display of a variety of breads and cakes, along with hot dishes, fruit, cereals, and fresh juices.  Dinner was a three-course meal, accompanied by Villa Il Leccio private label wine.  The dining room was beautiful at night and the table décor included fresh cuttings from the garden where they grow all their own flowers, herbs, and vegetables. 

My pictures don’t do it justice, but these are the photos I shot during our stay:

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

This room was added on in the 1700’s, and these frescoes were painted at that time.
The frescoes in the breakfast room date back to the 1500’s.
Original kitchen
The original kitchen is where a breakfast buffet was set up each morning.
To get to our room, we entered the piano room, went through the sitting room with the frescoes, turned into the breakfast room, made another turn into the original kitchen, and ended up here. We continued up the stairs, and finally arrived to our room. I’m not complaining; I was happy to be able to wander through the sprawling villa each time, so I could enjoy the beauty of each room!
This is the back of the villa.
Giada and her nephew
The formal dining room where we gathered each evening for a lovely meal.

The following morning, we drove through the Chianti Valley to visit Li’Apicorno, Martha and Petro’s goat and bee farm.  Martha showed us how goat cheese is made and what life is like raising goats.  We got to meet the goats, which were quite friendly!

It was chaos when Petro let the babies out to find their mom’s for a feeding!
Petro fed the goats chestnuts, a big treat for them!

Not far from the goat farm was Buondonno, the family winery run by Martha’s father.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch served with Chianti Classico wine, while enjoying views from the terrace overlooking the Chianti Valley. It was such a classically exquisite Italian experience! 

Risotto with goat cheese
Our tour leader, Ben, with Deb and Cesare, our driver
Their dog made the rounds to each of us to get petted– and for (hopeful!) hand-out.
Bruce gave Martha a pair of his fused glass earrings as a gift. It just so happened that blue was her favorite color!

Later in the afternoon, Oscar led us on a walk across the valley from Villa Il Leccio, so we could enjoy views of the villa and the countryside.

A zoomed-in view of Villa Il Leccio off in the distance

What a beautiful place!



Although Bruce and I had walked several streets of Lucca’s historic city center as well as the wall surrounding it, having a guided walking tour was a wonderful way to get a more in-depth look at this beautiful city.

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Take the perimeter walls, for example.  I knew they dated back to the 1500’s, but I didn’t know the walls were once hollow and filled in the early 1800’s.  Then, in the 1900’s, car races were held on them! The walls are no longer a race track, but they are used for walking, running, and cycling.

The San Luca Palace Hotel, where we were staying, also had some interesting history.  Back in the 1200’s, it was a hospital.  After being abandoned and sitting empty for a very long time, it was renovated and opened as a hotel in 1999.  The building across the street was also part of the hospital, and the original sign can still be seen on the wall stating it was built in 1257.

Within the walls of Lucca, although the population is only about 10,000, there are 100 churches, although most of them are currently used for other purposes.  Why would such a small population need so many churches?  Our guide, Simone, explained those churches once served as a place people could come for assistance when they made the pilgrimage to see the Holy Face of Lucca at the Duomo di San Martino (Cathedral of Saint Martin).  So many people had made that pilgrimage that the cathedral was overwhelmed.  The churches provided shelter and a place to recharge spiritually and physically.

Simone with a photo of the Holy Face of Lucca, the sacred wooden crucifix

Originally built in 1063, the front of the cathedral was rebuilt in 1204.

As we continued our walk, we noticed that many of the buildings had plaster facades with some exposed brick showing, much like we saw in Bologna and Parma.  Originally, the buildings of historic Lucca were made of brick; however, they have been covered with plaster and painted with warm colors as a way to unify and brighten the town.

These are scenes from our walking tour and our afternoon of free time:

San Michele in Foro
Piazza Dell’ Anfiteatro:This photo is a big fuzzy due to the panorama mode malfunctioning on my camera, but I wanted to give you an idea of the piazza’s charm.
This is a picture I took when I visited Lucca in 2007. It was in the morning before the square got busy with tourists and the local lunch crowd.
Our guide, Simone with our tour leader, Ben.
We stopped in at Il Mercatino for some made-to-order paninis. After pointing to the ingredients we wanted for our custom sandwiches, the sandwiches were weighed and priced accordingly. I opted for pecorino cheese and sun-dried tomatoes; Bruce added meat. The sandwiches were so delicious and filling; and, they only cost about $7.50 for both!
Dessert that night at…
…Trattoria Da Giulio



Thanks to HGTV’s Property Brothers and other home shows, Carrara marble is in right now, showing up in kitchen and bathroom remodels everywhere.  Have you ever thought about where it comes from and how it is extracted?  I hadn’t until our group visited the Carrara marble quarries. 

Situated along the Carrione River, Carrara is a town that was originally built by the Romans to house workers in the nearby quarries.  The Apuan Alps, where the marble is extracted, is located just up the windy road from town.

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

We had a behind-the-scenes look at the extraction process, and it was explained by our guide, Marco, a former worker in the quarry until his family sold it eight years ago.  His father, Luigi, retired long ago; however, he still visits the quarry regularly, as it was his life before he sold the business.  It was all he knew for 48 years of his life.

Luigi and Marco Bernacca
Our tour group
Cutting the marble
The block of marble this bulldozer moved was estimated to weigh 50 tons.

Carrara marble may be a luxury material, but the process to produce those beautiful countertops is far from luxurious.  The work is hard, dangerous, dirty, and unhealthy.  The quarries are the area’s only source of employment, though, so the workers accept the risks, including the high rate of silicosis and cancer from breathing in the dust and chemicals of the mines.

Speaking of marble dust, did you know it is used in toothpaste, shiny paper, cleaning products and even the Tums you take for an upset stomach?  Check out the ingredients label on Tums; those tablets are made of calcium carbonate—marble dust!

Back to the business of mining marble, the quarries used to be owned by the locals; however, they are now owned by the Chinese and others from outside of Italy.  Globalization of the industry has made it impossible for family businesses to compete, especially since the quarries are taxed 10% of the average value of the extracted marble, which is of varying qualities.  The price per ton a quarry can sell their marble at ranges from $80 to $3,000 depending on the quality.  When you think about the 15,000 tons of marble extracted on a daily basis and being exported, that’s a lot of money leaving Carrara.

What baffles me is the 15th-century rule, still in effect today, that stipulates that whoever finds marble in the mountains is entitled to keep the marble and establish a quarry on the premises, without having to pay taxes to the town or municipality.  As a result, the quarry owners continue to get richer and richer, while none of the wealth generated by the quarries gets invested back into the town.  This explains why Carrara is the poorest town in Italy!

Currently, 70,000 people live in Carrara, and only 1,000 of them work in the quarry, which used to be the second most important industry.  In the past, the marble was worked from beginning to the finished product, but now, it is sold and exported after extraction.  This has caused the extinction of the remaining industry and a high rate of unemployment.  Verona, Italy is where the marble is worked now.

Following our tour of the marble quarry, our group of fifteen was divided up to visit three homes in Marina di Carrara for a home-hosted lunch.  Bruce and I were assigned to Nadia Pailla’s home, along with Martha and Craig.  Nadia didn’t speak English, so Annita served as our translator.

We were treated to a lovely home-cooked meal, as detailed in this menu:

Craig, Nadia, Martha, Annita, and Bruce
Ben took a photo of us before saying, “Ciao!”

It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know locals of Carrara, learn more about life in their town, and enjoy local cuisine.  Our hosts got to know us as well!  Nadia was curious about our families and how we liked Italy.  She especially enjoyed the gifts we gave her.  Martha and Craig had brought macadamia nuts from Hawaii where they live, and I gave Nadia some photo notecards I had made with photos I had taken in the U.S.A.  Bruce had brought some fused glass earrings he had made, but neither Nadia or Annita had pierced ears.  (We’ll bring necklace pendants next time we travel!)

Our time with them was so enjoyable, we didn’t want to leave.  Nadia didn’t want us to go either, because when Ben called her to say he was coming soon to pick us up, she was sad.  Hugs all around when we said, “Ciao!”

Upon our return to Lucca, Bruce and I set off to walk the perimeter walls—a 2.5-mile loop around the historic city center.  Here are some photos of the views from the walking path atop the wall.  More details to follow in my next post…

The walls surrounding the historic city center are lined with trees, a bike path, and a walking path– all added in modern times!

Next up:  Lovely Lucca (Continued)


For the six of us who traveled the past several days with Oscar as our Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) tour leader, our arrival to Lucca marked the end of the pre-extension tour and the beginning of the base trip, Tuscany & Umbria: Rustic Beauty in the Italian Heartland.  Bruce and I had enjoyed our time with Oscar very much, so we didn’t want to say goodbye.  He assured us that our new tour leader, Ben, was the best, and we would like him.  After all, he had been trained by Ben, the senior tour leader for OAT in Italy.

Upon our arrival at San Luca Palace Hotel, we said our Ciao’s to Oscar and were introduced to Ben.  Yeah, Oscar was right; Ben seemed like a nice enough guy!

One step into our hotel room, and we both said, “Wow!”  The room was huge (and very Italian!) and the bathroom quite nice.  The location was perfect—situated within the walled historic city and close to everything.  Ben gave us a brief orientation tour, and then we explored on our own, taking advantage of the beautiful day and our free time, before meeting up with the other nine incoming travelers joining the tour.

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

The view from our room window

Although I had been to Lucca previously, it was sixteen years ago while on a cruise shore excursion, and the walking tour just wasn’t enough; I wanted to see more.  I had never forgotten Lucca, and it was one of the reasons I was drawn to this tour’s itinerary.

How wonderful to walk its streets again! 

San Michele in Foro
Giacomo Puccini, the great composer was born in Lucca

Lucca is known for several things: Its Renaissance-era city walls, well-preserved city center, the Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro (which dates back to the 1st century A.D.); and, the great composer, Giacomo Puccini, who was born in Lucca along with several other world-class composers.  Lucca is also known for making paper—everything from toilet paper to high-quality writing paper.  Additionally, the city of 89,000 hosts a fabulous summer music festival as well as a comics and games festival.

We were scheduled to take a walking tour the following day with a local guide; however, it would have to wait another day due to a schedule switch.  (We will return to Lucca in Italy #11.)