Yesterday, we took the train up to Lucca, a nice sized town in Tuscany with the crowning glory of completely intact, medieval walls which now form a pedestrian and bicycle promenade. We were supposed to be in Livorno, picking up the car we'd shipped from the U.S. Those of you who've read the blog from the beginning may remember that the government shipped one car, and we elected to ship our 2nd vehicle at the last minute. With some sort of weird mix-up, we did not ship it with the same company who holds the government contract like we thought we were doing, so the car did not get all the way to Naples. Instead, it was shipped to Livorno, about five hours north of Naples, and coincidentally, the place where Nathan's uncle was stationed several years ago while in the Army. When we told a few people about having to go to Livorno, they all recommended a visit to Lucca, about a half hour away, so we made our hotel reservation for a little B&B within Lucca's city walls. We weren't able to get the car out of customs yesterday, so instead, spent the late afternoon wandering around Lucca's streets, enjoyed a late lunch in a piazza that sits in the middle of what used to be the town's amphitheatre, rode bikes on the city walls, and had a great dinner at a local trattoria.
The port in Livorno closed today at 11:30, and we calculated it would take us an hour to get there given the 15 minute walk to the train station, two trains, then taxi to the customs agency office. Thankfully, we got ready a little early and decided to head out rather than have breakfast at our B&B. Due to our late trains, the trip ended up taking two hours. But we made it, got to the port, and while our customs agent was inside getting the documentation stamped, we stared at our car in a nearby parking lot...and realized one of the tires was completely flat. While we were staring in consternation, wondering how we're going to get that car back to Naples today (not optional to wait due to the movers!), a security guard walked by to ask what we were doing, and Nathan, mistaking him for a port agent, started into the whole story. The very nice security guard offered up the use of the air compressor he keeps in his trunk (??? why???), spent 20 minutes with us while pumping up the tire, then gave our customs agent directions to a nearby repair shop who would do a fix immediately and for a fair price.
The sense of relief we felt when we were finally on the road, in our own car, was so great. We concocted this great plan to have lunch in Florence and dinner in Rome since both were on our route home. We re-routed the GPS for Florence, but then decided that instead of battling Florence's traffic and busyness, we'd detour off the main route and lunch in San Gimignano, one of Tuscany's best hill towns. San Gimignano has 13 of it's original 70+ towers still standing, the most of any city in Tuscany. Most cities tore down their towers for the sake of development, or, the towers crumbled with lack of upkeep. For lunch, we picked a trattoria on a side street that didn't seem too touristy and had one of the best meals we've had in Italy. Absolutely phenomenal. Nathan had a beef carpaccio antipasti he loved, and for our primi plates, we had tagliatelle with tartufo (truffle) and ravioli stuffed with gorgonzola and walnuts. Plus a chocolate cake made with almond flour for dessert - yum, yum, yum. After that, we hit a calorie coma and were so tired that we skipped walking around San Gimignano for more exploring. In addition, we nixed the dinner in Rome plan after remembering all the packing up of the hotel room still left to do. Unfortunately, it meant nixing the entire blog I had written in my head and entitled, "Lunch in Florence, Dinner in Rome." Another time, perhaps.