today was the day we were leaving lucca, we were determined. we were not going to over sleep and we were not going to let the weather deter us. well, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day but we did wake up a tad late so, we made an executive decision – no breakfast, no showers, we would eat on the way and just wash our faces, brush our teeth and throw some clothes on. we ran to the train station and made the train to viareggio in plenty of time to spare. the italian train system is a bit tricky on many levels, the first being that they have no printed schedules. somehow, if you are italian, you are born knowing when trains leave and on what track. otherwise, if you are not italian, you are at the mercy of the ticket sellers and you find yourself, often, at the end of very long lines of other non-italians who have a thousand questions. needless to say, these lines do not move quickly. but we, having already been through the drill the day we overslept, knew that we needed to buy a ticket to pietrasanta, take the train to viareggio, change at viareggio for one stop and get off a pietrasanta. piece of cake. we bought our tickets for nine euros for the two, a bargain, went to the machine to validate the tickets ( a must, we found out, although no one tells you. if you don’t get your ticket stamped by the validating machine after you buy it, you can get fined many euros) and hopped on our train.
we were so happy on our train, congratulating ourselves on how clever we were on figuring out the train system. here it was, ten-thirty and we were on our way to pietrasanta, a beautiful artist colony by the sea. we got to viareggio, found the right track, boarded the train to pietrasanta and then the conductor came by, took one look at our tickets and shook his head no. “no” ? we asked. “no”. he answered. it seems we were on the eurostar not the regionale. the eurostar did not stop at pietrasanta. we had gone one stop too far. that was going to cost us eight extra euros. we had to get off at the next stop and wait ten minutes for the next train to pietrasanta. we paid the man, got off at the next stop, bought new tickets, another six euros and then found out the next train was not in ten minutes but in an hour. now howard was upset. we decided to take a cab. how far could it be? no problem the taxi driver said. twenty euros – not far. great. we hopped in the cab and off we went to pietrasanta. except there was a problem. every road we turned down, where there was a sign pointing toward pietrasanta there was a policeman and a road block. there was much cursing and screaming on the part of our taxi driver and much hand waving and whistle blowing on the part of the polizia and much ticking of our meter. since our driver spoke no english, it took all of my spanish skills plus quite a bit of acting out to finally ascertain that the problem had to do with a bicycle race that had closed down all the roads. when we finally reached our destination, our little nine euro trip to pietrasanta had ended up costing us about 60 euros, but we were there and it was beautiful and just about closing up for the one to four break. we did have time to walk around and see many wonderful galleries and shops, a fabulous church and an amazing piazza covered with art. the town is all about art. we had, of course, a wonderful lunch and got the train home in record time with no glitches.
when we got home we went to the post office which was an adventure in itself and then howard went marketing and came home with all the ingredients to whip up the most amazing salad of fresh tuna, buffala mozzarella, roasted potatoes, string beans, lettuce, oil, balsamic vinegar, and a spritz of lemon. a glass of wine, a piece of bread and we were in heaven. later that evening we walked to the church in the next piazza. our neighbor bennadetta is in a choir and they were performing for a charity and she invited us to attend. it was quite moving but we were so tired from our big day we almost fell asleep. church music is beautiful but also can be sleep inducing.