The Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa: In Pictures, The North West Tuscan Way, Tour 25

Curvilinear Marble Sculpture

p r e s e n t s

Lucca to Pisa big map 1 Google Earth

Lucca to Pisa map 2 Google Earth

Lucca to Pisa map 3 Google Earth

North West Tuscany for the Independent Tourist

IN PICTURES

Bike Path, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa, Ripafratta, Tuscany, Italy

Tour 25: The Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

To fully appreciate the verdant stretch of land separating the two great Tuscan cities of Lucca and Pisa it is, I believe, important to bear in mind one or two pertinent historical facts.  Firstly… never, well at lease not until quite recently,  since the earliest accounts of either settlement was first documented over a thousand years ago… have these two communities got along.  Lucca Big Map 1 Google EarthIn fact, for centuries it would appear to have been a case of war, war, and more war.  With the regional balance of power involving the shifting alliances of Genoa, Florence, Sienna and whichever invading power chose to invade, war, throughout the region, became the quite the norm.  So many wars in fact that a whole series of them, centuries, are simply lumped as the ‘Italian Wars’.  But from what I can gather, whichever the alliance, and whoever was backstabbing who – these two powerful city states never seem to have lined up on the same side.  Lucca, quite demure in contrast, and envious of Pisa’s wild and wicked seafaring ways, has always enjoyed hemming their fiercest rivals in.   For in spite of its vast wealth the truth of the matter is that Pisa’s actual physical location has proven a thorn in their side for millennia.  Lucca to Pisa map 2 Google EarthUnlike their regional rivals, Pisans governed practically no dominions save for their compact little coastal enclave – Lucca, in fact has had them surrounded on three sides, and on the fourth, well, that wasn’t going too well for them at all.  The Arno, the Serchio, and a good many lesser rivers pouring down from the nearby mountains, deposited enough silt that over time Pisa’s harbor became utterly landlocked.  And once her navy was routed and destroyed, assimilation within the mighty Florentine empire became inevitable.   Even as fellow communes within the Medici Tuscan Empire I still sense an unease between these two.   But what struck me when I was over there, and now as I look at the map, is just how very close Pisa and Lucca actually are to one another.  We’re talking just a few short miles.  Hilltop Village, Countryside Around Lucca and PisaAnd if it wasn’t for a low range of densely wooded hills dividing the two it would be difficult to separate one outer suburb from the beginning of the next:  as if, say, my home town of Preston had spent hundreds of years at war with Blackpool, or Blackburn just ten short miles down the road.  It’s quite unimaginable.   But with the hills, the narrow country lanes, the tiny medieval villages, and all, well, believe me, there is plenty to keep even a mildly curious independent tourist busy for days.  Remnants of castles, preserved castles, castles that are now spiffy homes, castles that are now churches, churches built into castles, ruined castles, fine upstanding castles, and more castles, dozens, scores of them, practically litter the landscape.  Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and PisaFortifications of all sorts lay half-hid by the side of the road, and practically every hike will reveal mysterious, long abandoned structures poking out from within the trees.   My chosen method of transport was the bicycle.  But be careful if you take to the road on two wheels, Italians drive very fast indeed.   The local branch lines can drop you off at some very interesting and relatively remote spots.  And of course a rented Fiat will take you anywhere you wish to go.  But wherever you go, and whatever you do, I think you will find the people friendly, the food excellent, the landscape intriguing,  and, if you hold an interest in these things, the history quite fascinating. Indeed!

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Should you be following the North West Tuscan Way in the literal sense, well, this is it – the last leg of a journey that began in Pisa and is about to end there. For after this we take one last look at Lucca’s arch rival… stroll the arcades, crisscross the bridges, take in a few sights… before moving on to the Plaza of Miracles, where after visiting the staggeringly beautiful cathedral and baptistery – surely two of the most gorgeous buildings still standing today, and then, with twilight bearing down fast,  we’ll make our exit the way we came in via the famous, the one and only, leaning tower of Pisa.  So enjoy the fresh air,  watch out for the racing cars,  and enjoy this most enchanting slice of Tuscan life.

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Lucca Aqueduct, Countryside Around Lucca

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Lucca Aqueduct, Countryside Around Lucca

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Lucca Aqueduct, Countryside Around Lucca

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Lucca Aqueduct, Countryside Around Lucca

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Lucca Aqueduct, Countryside Around Lucca

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Bike Path, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Bike Path, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Bike Path, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Bike Path, near Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Weir on the Sergio River, Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Weir on the Sergio River, Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Weir on the Sergio River, Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Hilltop Village, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Hillltop Village, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Church Tower, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Tree-lined Driveway near Ripafratta, Countryside Around Lucca and Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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Parco e le Sue Riserve, Lago di Massaciuccoli, Countryside Around Pisa

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and now

the slideshow

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next

The North West Tuscan Way: In Pictures

Pisa, Italy

Tour 26: Downtown Pisa

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