Pisa & Lucca
A Mediterranean port, followed by a medieval treasure.
o trip to Italy is complete without a visit to Pisa. Take the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful medieval church complexes that Italy has to offer. Learn why the world’s most famous tower leans and how Pisa’s powerful navy used to dominate the Tyrrhenian Sea. After visiting our favorite panino shop and enjoying a picnic in the shade of Pisa’s
gorgeous cathedral, we will head off to the nearby town of Lucca. This charming little gem is one of Italy’s best-preserved Medieval cities, complete with six-foot deep Renaissance walls and towers galore. Top it all off with a picturesque bike ride on top of Lucca’s walls, a climb up one of its majestic towers, or some live music in one of the city’s many hidden piazzas.
Length of Trip: Day Trip
Transportation: Private bus to Pisa and Lucca
Activities & Sites Visited: Pisa’s cathedral complex, including the Leaning Tower, bike ride around Lucca, Chocolate tasting in Lucca. For more details, see below.
Activities & Sites: Pisa
Learn about one of Italy’s most brilliant minds, Galileo Galilei, and his efforts to revolutionize our conceptions of the universe. Born in Pisa in 1564, he first taught mathematics in his home town where he developed a penchant for natural history and upsetting the church. Hear about his discoveries made while sitting during mass in the Cathedral of Pisa, as well as the birth of the myth that he discovered the universal law of gravity while atop the leaning tower.
NB: This talk will be given in conjunction with a scheduled visit to the Galileo Museum in Florence to see the telescopes he constructed to observe the surface of the moon for the first time in human history.
Pisa remained one of Italy’s most important port cities from its ancient Roman foundation until the middle ages. Hear about the city's rise to preeminent status as the crossroads of the Mediterranean and ultimately to its demise due to geologic change. Learn about the Pisa Cathedral complex and how the leaning tower became the most famous architectural mistake. Then listen to stories of the outrageous rivalry between the Florentines and the Pisans found in local sayings such as “Better a death in the family than a Pisan at your doorstep.
Activities & Sites: Lucca
The city of Lucca remains a compelling mixture of Medieval and Renaissance construction. Compare a thirteenth century urban center to late sixteenth century fortifications and you will come away with a perfect idea of the evolution of architecture in early modern Italy. Learn about the Guinigi family tower which still contains living Oak Trees, a symbol of the city’s independence until the eighteenth century.
After your mind is filled with the history of Lucca, take a bike tour of the city. Cruise around the beautiful fortified walls at your leisure or dart down the narrow streets like the local Italians.
Take a break at Lucca’s famed sweets store “Chocolat” for a heavenly taste of some of the richest chocolate Italy has to offer. Look for the chocolate truffles or if the day is hot “cioccolata fredda,” a cold drink that tastes more like pudding than a beverage. Also make sure to check out the window displays for some of the most elaborate advertising this side of the Atlantic.
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