Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lucca Renaissance

The Chief and I had been to Lucca several times before having kids, so we knew the city centre pretty well and had visited some of the cities nearby. We chose to return for that reason and also because it is a small centro surrounded by walls, so everything is close by and pretty safe and easy to walk to. We thought it would have enough activities to keep the kids entertained without having to leave if we didn't want to. 

We were keen to go back but weren't sure how the kids would take to a new country, new food and a new routine. Holidays with kids are never relaxing. Everything takes at least twice as long and is 10x as complicated. 

Even picking a place to stay was difficult. We wanted near or in the centre, air-conditioned, ground floor or with a lift and big enough for all of us. I found a place just outside the walls but it turned out, on a busy main road. So we got to listen to ambulances fly by every hour it seemed. Italian ambulance drivers like their sirens. It also had a lift, but not to our floor, so we had to drag our buggy, kids, baby, bags up and down a floor. But the kids liked the flat and some of the extras. 

Besides Pisa, our only trip outside Lucca was the 2 days we went to Viareggio on the coast for the beach. The kids loved it. The first day was cooler, but the second was scorching and a dip in the warmish sea was a relief. It's not Baltic like . . . the Baltic so everyone went in. 

We rode a 4 person bike on the walls with the boys crammed between us and the girls in the front as they didn't have a six seater available at that time. It was exhausting, but fun. If it had been cooler we would have done it another time. 

We enjoyed being around Italians. After the Finns, they are warm, gregarious, open and friendly with kids. The Chief received several 'complimenti' from people about our kids. Italians usually have one, at the most two kids, so 4 is very unusual. Foo even got his cheek pinched by an old lady. 

Here's a waiter taking Foo to 'hunt' a pigeon with a toy slingshot. 

We ate a lot of ice cream. Even went to our favourite ice cream store a few times. Totally worth the trip alone. 

Generally we enjoyed being together in the world with no agenda, routine or rush. Foo coped brilliantly. My wee boy is growing up and beginning to take change more in his stride.

We loved being surrounded by a beautiful city with a bit of character and history. 

This will be my home someday. 

We even took in a bit of nature at the Orto Botanico (Botanic Gardens). 


And the more controlled nature at the Palazzo Pfanner. 

And we ate and ate and ate great Italian food. 

Even microwaved pizza by Mama, we discovered after the fact there was no oven in the flat. Here's Pudding doing the sign for more. Can't have been that bad from the state of her smile and the sauce on her face. 

Bump was in her element because everywhere she could get her favourites: Piscetti and Psagna. I may have helped her with a plate or 20 of lasagna. It took a while for our picky eater Mouse to find food that he would eat and once we found a few restaurants that worked for us, we went back again and again. 

We found a play park near our apartment and had a bit of fun there when it wasn't too hot. Sorry, can't get enough of her smile. 

Mouse, The Chief and Bump climbed the Guinigi Torre to get a good look at the city. 

We walked the walls, alot. In fact, even though we mainly stayed in the center of Lucca, we still walked miles. I can't believe that we considered leaving the buggy board at home for even a minute. The kids, especially Foo and Bump, fought to go on it constantly, but it was a life saver, if a bit of a back breaker as the boys are really too heavy for it now. 

We visited some of the other sites like the Antifeatro. 

All in all, it was a brilliant holiday. Maybe it was a bit too hot, a bit too long and not as exciting as we would have liked if the Chief and I were on our own. But we brought a lot of our own complications into the picture with 4 children, a picky eater, a child sensitive to changes and who has some mobility issues, so I would say considering those it went amazingly smoothly.

Ciao e grazie Italia. You made our first family holiday a successful one.  

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