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A Trip to Italy (and maybe some runs) Part 9, Lucca and my Mission

Cover me, I’m going in
thru the Lucca Wall

It was Friday (I didn’t miss this one). It was our last full day staying at the villa. I was on a mission.

The day we walked the streets and shopped the shops of Lucca, we had seen some wonderful handmade pottery that nicely depicted the Tuscan countryside. This morning, I was going to combine two of my favorite things: running and doing something for Linda. My goal was to get in my morning run within the gates of Lucca and find the pottery shop amidst the hundreds of shops we had seen. I arrived around 8, and Lucca was as I had hoped, completely void of people. A few were up on the city walls walking, running, and biking but that was not me today. I was the urban hunter. With intelligence as my guide, I decided that if I just ran the streets; up one, down the other, I would find the illusive shop. Wow, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After 4 miles of street running and nothing to show for it. I decided to just run and not search. The plan was twofold: I would enjoy the last miles of my run more if I was focused on the run, and by not searching I would find my shop. While I enjoyed the run, the trickery

Lucca in the morning

of the non-search search didn’t work out. So upon completion of my six miles, I just walked.
Finally I had another idea. If I could get back to the church where the opera happened, I might be able to retrace some vaguely remember steps to the shop.

At 9:50 am, after 6 miles of running and another 2 walking, there it was! OPEN AT 10:30! What? Are you kidding me? Who opens at 10:30? I’ve been up since 6!!!! Doesn’t this shop owner know what I have been through today? SIGHHHHHHHH. Oh well, let’s walk around some more.

Now all was not lost. First and foremost, I had found the shop and without a severe lapse in memory it would allude me no more. Next, I had some time to shop for something for my sons. While I am not a big believer in gifts from Daddy’s trip, I do know that a practical, well thought out present might be nice.

Pinarellos? I’m in!

Then, I find the perfect place, an Italian bike store.

Back near the turn of the century, after the death of their Mom, my boys and I did a ton of cycling. Many young men know their football roster, or the baseball lineup. The three of us once sat in a condo in Breckenridge and not only made up a cycling board game (lovingly called Mandelbaum), but identified 175 professional cyclists. Sick? I think not.

Anyway, an American woman who had married an Italian man owned the quaint little place that focused mostly on rentals but also had some cool stuff in general. What caught my eye was the official Giro di Italia hat knowing that each would find this to be a worthy addition to their hat collections. DONE!

Finally, it’s 10:23 and it’s back to the pottery shop. Lo and behold, she’s opened early and my pot and plate await. I tell her of my crusade to not only find her but to acquire the target

Lucca has a carousel? Go figure.

of my shopping desire. She seems unimpressed. “You know, I could have gotten my wife a Giro hat,” I wanted to say. Oh well, mission accomplished. So, it’s 11 am and time that for me to drive back.

It has not been mentioned in a few posts, but by now, I have getting back to the villa DOWN. I follow the GPS (no matter where I am) till I find Poopy’s, and I am good to go. Nailed it. Again! I also decide that this would be a good time to get gas and since there is a station right around the corner from Poopy’s, it seems like the perfect place. I must confess that I was a hair nervous about working the whole “put gas in Chiara’s car” thing, but it went without incident. Now, not only am I cool, chill Italian driving Rich, but I also know how to do the petroleum thing. 

A Nun and a Cop. Good Pair!

It was decided that the last full day at the Villa would be a relaxing one. Enjoy the pool, wander the grounds, visit the local store, maybe see the extremely cool museum/house just below us. It was also decided that we would head out this evening and sample the local fare, maybe hit a pizza place. Seemed perfect.

The pool, while a little chilly was great. It was a good size, located perfectly to capture the optimal sunshine and well appointed with the finest in lawn furniture. In short, a nice hangout. So, for a while, we pooled. 

At this point, I need to mention two things that have gone without comment during our journey. Thing one was the local store.

On one of the first days at the Villa we grocery shopped at a little market (well, mid-sized) in town. It was nice, convenient, and all of that. While exploring, however, Rachel and Joey found this nifty little (and I mean little) place just down the hill via several trails. As the grocery guy, I spent little time in this awesome spot as it could not compare to the

Rachel and Joey at “the store”

Supercenter: Esselunga di Porcari, which must be Italian for Big Ass Grocery Store. Nonetheless, the final journey to the little store had more meaning as Joey must have walked to it nearly everyday. 

Just up the street from the little store was this “place” that just stood out anytime you looked down the hill from the Villa. We saw this place everyday. We even took a tour of it that cost 12 euros a piece, and for the life of me, I cannot find the name of it. So, I will just say this: it was old, a lot of “important” people had lived in it, and they wouldn’t allow you to take pictures inside (rip off). My two fave pics of the outside are along this post.

So, back to the two unmentionables. The second one was my computer. I have/had a 15″ Macbook Pro that had served me well for almost four years. On night two at the Villa, I

The house/museum

noticed that instead of going to sleep when unattended, my computer would semi-shut off. While one can be revived from sleep with a tap of any key, I was having to actually turn it on each time. After the fourth episode, my computer said, “sorry, that’s it. I’m done.” And it died.

Luckily, I had my ipad for some minor computing. The biggest fear was that I had lost a big bunch of info stored after the last backup. Also, luckily, the hard drive was okay. Lesson: computers last about three to four years, plan on it.

Returning from the house/museum, I am completely prepared for what will be one of the big pains of group travel, deciding which pizza place to visit. Well, that never happened as while we were gone an administrative decision was made that instead of going out, we would play potpourri with the contents of the fridge. What???? I thought we had a plan.

The garden of “the place”

Having had enough of the administration, we (Linda and me) decided to revolt. Pizza was the plan, and by God these two rabble rousers were going out for pizza. Rabble, rabble, rabble (or is it rouser, rouser, rouser). After soliciting little support for the revolution, I said to Kyle, “We’re going out for pizza anyway. Wanna go?”  Answer: “YOU BET!” So me, Linda, Kyle and Kaycee were off the Pizzeria da Andrea down the hill in Campannori.

Upon entering, you’d have thought these Americans were bringing the plague with them. After crabby greetings, frowns, and somewhat dirty looks, the Americans were given a seat and a girl who spoke a little English to be the sacrificial waitress. But from here on in though, it was all fabulous pizza. We sat, ate, and chatted for an hour. I think I learned more about Kyle in that 60

Bocce by night

minutes than in the 19 preceding years that I have been with his Aunt Linda. And Kaycee, who we just hadn’t ever spent a lot of time with, was delightful. 

The drive back was without incident (just turn at Poopy’s). “How was the pizza?” was the question. Well, it was fantastic and even if it had been terrible, we’d have said it was fantastic. Administration be damned.

Darkness settled in and the focus turned to the courageous sport of bocce. I have to admit, seeing everyone trying to be awesome at something that looks so simple (and is not) was quite entertaining. Having said that, I will also mention that I NAILED bocce. Well, maybe.