To be honest, I had never even heard of Lucca until a few months before our trip to Italy. But as soon as Andy told me the city still had its medieval walls, I was excited to see it. We made it our first side trip during our month-long stay in Pisa, and luckily it was a sunny day. We loved Lucca so much, and I think it should be higher on people’s list of places to see in Tuscany.
Sometimes I feel like I’m joining a cult. It started before our trip to Morocco, but Morocco was the tipping point.
When I was 18, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It’s an autoimmune digestive disease that affects my colon. It’s not fun, but I take my pills every day, and aside from a few bumps in the road, I’ve lived the past 16 years pretty much like anyone else. I’ve heard horror stories of what can happen to people with this disease, but I’ve been lucky, mostly healthy, and I went along thinking I’d be fine as long as I kept taking my medicine.
Andy and I really enjoyed our week in Minori on the Amalfi Coast in 2013. It was a gorgeous place to be and we didn’t do much besides relax and gaze at the water. I almost didn’t want to leave at the end of the week. This time around, we picked Maiori, the next town over, because it’s a little bigger and we wanted to make sure things were still open in October. Surprisingly, the bus from Salerno was packed even that late in the season. We just barely made it onto the bus, with Andy at the back and my parents and I in the front practically on the driver’s lap.
Before our most recent trip to Italy, I had never been farther south than the Amalfi Coast. But my mom wanted to see where her grandparents lived in Reggio di Calabria, which is the toe of the boot, so I decided we should go see some of Sicily since we were going to be that far south. After hearing such wonderful things about Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian) I found us an apartment for five nights on the island of Ortigia, and this turned out to be my favorite destination of the trip.
I’m starting to lose track of how many times I’ve been to Rome. I added Rome to my parents’ Italy itinerary because, really, it’s amazing. Andy and I didn’t need to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum again, but we sent my parents on a tour so they could see what I think are the best tourist sights in Rome. Andy and I didn’t do tons of sightseeing, but there were a few places we missed last June that we made a point of seeing this fall. There’s always something to see in Rome no matter how many times you’ve been there.
Both of my parents had Italian grandparents who moved to the US in the early 1900s. They grew up eating Italian food, so trying the food on a trip to Italy held even more meaning for them. I wanted to show them how regional Italy is when it comes to food, and that the food in Rome is different from some of the things they grew up with. (My mom’s Italian grandparents were from Calabria, and my dad’s were from Abruzzo.) I had heard wonderful things about Eating Italy Food Tours, so Andy and I decided to sign the four of us up for their Trastevere food tour.
“Please don’t let us die! Please don’t let us die! Please don’t let us die!”
This is what ran through my head in a loop for nearly the entire two hour taxi ride from Tangier to Chefchaouen. This was our introduction to our relaxing, laptop-free, work-free vacation in Morocco. Our driver seemed to think he was in a race car, and yet he jerked the wheel and over-corrected when going around curves in a way that reminded me of a teenager learning to drive.
Our time in Pisa has finally come to an end. It’s not a bad city, I promise. There really is more to it than just the tower. But it just wasn’t the right place for us. Although sometimes we need to struggle in order to really see what it is that’s wrong and what needs to be changed or fixed. There are a lot of things not quite working in our life right now, but it probably would’ve taken us a lot longer to realize it without this stressful month.
When my parents told me then wanted to go to Italy when they came to visit, I started making a mental list of all the places I thought they should see to get a good feel for the country. It’s a very regional country with distinct differences from north to south, region to region, city to city. So as I got down to actually planning out the trip, Florence easily made the cut.
I’ve been struggling to write blog posts over the past few weeks. I had some scheduled to go up while we were traveling with my parents, and I’ve been doing a decent amount of paid writing, but with my two sites, I’m blocked. So I thought maybe if I got all of this out of my head and dismissed my normal attempt at being chronological, it might help. Andy and I are a little more than halfway through our month in Pisa, and it’s not going so well.