Livorno is typically the "jumping off" port for excursions to Florence, Italy. However, other Italian treasures are just down the road from Livorno. There's Pisa, with its leaning tower, and also the medieval town of Lucca. We have been to Florence at least twice, so we decided to check out Lucca.
We LOVE afternoon excursions, for obvious reasons. First of all, we get to sleep later! Second, we can enjoy lunch on board Silver Muse before disembarking, which is exactly what we do at La Terrazza today. La Terrazza is Silver Muse's buffet lunch venue located on Deck 7 aft. La Terrazza has been expanded in size and scope from what we have experienced on other Silversea ships. The buffet serving line has been divided into several free-standing stations to alleviate long lines.
I am pleased to see that the cold seafood station includes a large platter of fresh Sashimi and beautiful (and large) Sushi rolls.
There is also a separate stir-fry station serving a different Asian stir-fry each day and a beautiful antipasti station with freshly-sliced Parma ham, Proscuitto, salami and cheeses. There are so many choices that a return trip to the buffet line is required! Wait staff circulate through the dining room offering complimentary glasses of white or red wine and offer to carry your plate from the serving line to your table. Typical Silversea service.
After a delicious lunch at La Terrazza, it is time for Rickee and me to gather our things and disembark Silver Muse for our 2:00pm excursion. As instructed in the Daily Chronicles, we meet our tour guide pierside five minutes before excursion departure time.
The drive from Livorno to Lucca takes about 45 minutes. Along the way, our guide talks about the area and hands out Audiotours audio units to each guest to use during the walking tour.
When we arrive in Lucca, it is cold, rainy and windy. Everyone has his or her Silversea umbrella close at hand in case the wet stuff begins to fall from the sky. Fortunately, it never does. But, it is still very windy and quite cold. Our local guide, Anna Marie, begins explaining the history of Lucca as we walk toward the entry to the old town.
One we enter the old town of Lucca, things begin to get a little more interesting. First, the narrow streets and a tall building give us a little refuge from the wind, but not completely.
As we walk into town, we stop briefly in front of a local street vendor who is selling star anise-flavored "biscuits" which look more like potato chips than what we think of in America as a biscuit. The vendor fills a large bag with the freshly-made "biscuits" and gives them to our guide, who invites everyone to try one. They are warm, sweet and have a licorice flavor. Not to my liking, but if you like licorice, you would love them.
A little farther into the city and we come to St. Martin's Square and the impressive cathedral. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Martin and the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca. Construction was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm (who later became Pope Alexander II).
The photo above does not capture the ground view, only the second level up, to show the individual columns, each of which is unique. As we walk through town, Anna Marie points out one of the remaining towers in Lucca, The Torre Guinigi, the most important tower of Lucca. It is a typical example of local Romanesque-Gothic architecture. This tower is one of the few remaining within the city walls.
One of our last stops on our walking tour was Piazza Anfiteatro, a circular public square (no pun intended) surrounded with shops, cafes and boutique hotels.
We were given about an hour of free time to explore Lucca on our own. Rickee and I used that time to purchase a few souvenirs and postcards. We were able to easily mail our postcards using a small postal drop box outside one of the shops. On the main street into the city on our way back to the meeting point, we found a shop specializing in locally-produced olive oil. I could not resist.
La Boutique dei Golosi is a small, one-man shop with an incredible selection of locally-produced olive oil and balsamic vinegars. The owner, who spoke English, took the time to direct me to a good choice based on what we will be using the oil for. The small tin should also be easy for us to pack. If we did not have the stupid "no liquids in carry-on' rules from the airlines, I would have purchased a larger bottle.
By the time we returned to Silver Muse, it was close to 7:00pm. We do not have any dinner reservations this evening, and really don't feel like getting all dressed up. There are a couple of casual dining options on Silver Muse. Unfortunately, both of them are outside. That is not a fun option when it is 55 degrees and windy, but Silversea does place blankets on the chairs to help guests stay warm.
We decide to re-visit Spaccanapoli for pizza (Deck 11). Rickee went back to her favorite Margherita Pizza (San Marzano tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil) while I decide to try the Prosciutto e Rucola (San Marzano tomotoes, cheese, Parma ham, fresh arugula).
I am pretty close to declaring Spaccanapoli as having the best pizza on a cruise ship. It is one of the few pizzas that could hold its own on land. If this place were within five miles of where I live, I would drive there to eat the pizza, it's that good. The crispy, thin crust is the key. However, I would like to see Silversea issue diners a rolling pizza cutter instead of just a knife and fork. It is a real struggle to cut the large pizza with a knife.
After dinner, we visit Arts Cafe for a nightcap. This peaceful little space is right down the hall from our suite and makes for a nice spot to relax and enjoy a cup of tea, or a cocktail. It has been a long and active day of walking around Lucca, so we decide to skip tonight's show and get some sleep.
Tomorrow, Silver Muse will be in Villefranche, France.