A Stranger on a Bus

Okay, so today I woke up at 6 a.m. and was out the door by 7 making tracks to the train station more than a mile and a half away. Lucca, a town about 50 miles east of Florence, was on the agenda. The plan was to take the train to Lucca and the bus back. Why? Just to compare the two for future reference.

I woke up tired from all my travels and was not a happy camper as my husband and I went in search of a bus line that could bring us back to Florence. Suffice it to say, the bus system in Italy is a mystery. I don’t recommend trying to solve it early in the morning before your first injection of caffeine.

I slept on the train to Lucca and arrived somewhat refreshed. First up was the 16th century ramparts that still encircle the town. This month marks the wall’s 500th birthday.


The stunning white statues are a 20th century addition and can be found throughout the Tuscan town.

The Guinigi Tower (just 230 steps to the top) offers a beautiful bird’s eye view of the town.


The tower was built by the wealthy Guinigi family. Seems rich folks built towers beside their casas back in the day. The cool thing about this tower is that it has trees growing on top.


Puccini of opera legend was born in Lucca and sang in the choir of the San Michele in Foro. The facade of this church is rather odd.


None of the columns on top are the same and the archangel on the tip top has retractable wings to survive high winds.

We stumbled into La Boutique dei Golosi and walked out with a bottle of Limoncino (60 proof) and several truffle-related products. The owner is French, his wife is Italian, and his “truffle stuff” is good!

Lunch was at an outdoor cafe in the Piazzo Anfiteatro which was originally a Roman amphitheatre.


The site of the amphitheatre is perfectly preserved in a complete circle. Walking along the exterior wall of the circle is cool.


Since I began the day tired and John ended up that way..


we cut our day in Lucca short and headed for the Magical Mystery Tour — aka finding the bus stop for the bus to Florence.

A lovely, Finnish stranger helped us locate the right stop. She boarded the bus with us to visit her daughter in Florence.

She and I, being of similar age, struck up a most interesting conversation on the hour+ ride while John napped. She spoke fluent English and was delightfully open with her views on a variety of topics.

According to the stranger on the bus, the U.S. government is corrupt, GMOs are now infiltrating Italian supermarkets thanks to American corporations, becoming a vegetarian improved her Italian husband’s sex drive and switching to an organic, plant-based shampoo restored her beautiful blonde hair to its youthful glory. She also gave me fair warning when visiting her mother country. In Finland, “everyone takes off their clothes to get in the sauna and then rolls around in the snow naked. So be prepared.”

And to think I didn’t give two hoots this morning about taking a bus from Lucca to Florence! So glad I didn’t miss meeting the stranger on the bus.

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