Earlier this month we attended a wedding in Lucca, Italy. Flying all the way from the Caribbean for a weekend due to annual leave limitations, we decided to make the most of the time we had by flying directly from Miami to Milan. We treated ourselves to business class on the overnight journey by using up some of the AA miles we'd collected.
TRAVEL HACK - you can book one way tickets on points which you can't really do when you pay with money so airmails are great if you're looking at a multi-city route. We flew from Grand Cayman to Milan and from London back to Grand Cayman all on points.
On arrival in Milan we picked up our hire car - hubby conveniently "forgot" his license leaving me with no choice but to try and remember how to drive a manual and take to the "wrong" side of the road in our Fiat 500.
We made a quick stop for coffee, snacks and important cargo, and we were off!
With 6 hours to make it from Milan to Lucca we didn't have much time to explore the Cinque Terre trail so we decided to stop at Camogli, an old fishing town west of Portofino and less touristy than it's more famous neighbours. We wandered the steep streets down to the beach and along the promenade surrounded by brightly coloured houses, drinking in the fresh sea air.
Lazy locals stretched out on the rocks around a pretty little marina full of bobbing wooden boats.
We picked out a cute little taverna across the water where, shaded by old trees we tucked into fresh mozzarella and tomatoes washed down with cold prosecco.
Followed by compulsory gelato for desert! After lunch we headed back to the car to complete the journey to Lucca arriving just as the sun was setting through the gaps in the buildings along the narrow streets.
Lucca is a walled city, a perfectly preserved jewel of medieval architecture. We had the morning before the wedding to explore so we hired bikes (the easiest way to get around the pedestrianised streets) and set off on two wheels to find breakfast. Cafe Santa Maria near the gate of the same name (there are four main gates through the walls) was buzzing with locals and tourists looking for a morning fix of caffeine and nutella - we followed suit.
Satisfied and ready to burn some calories we did a lap of the city - a wide promenade runs along the top of the walls and is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists getting their bearings around the city or simply some exercise. It's a great way to get a feel of the place before delving into the treasures inside.
We headed for the Piazza of San Michelle with it's beautiful church. Other highlights included the Basilica of San Freudian as well as the clock tower and Guinigi Tower.
As we approached midday, we sought shade at a restaurant on Piazza Napoleon and admired the beautiful town square over a cold beed and some freshly made pizza.
And that marked the end of our first 24 hours in Tuscany, with beaches and bike tours, pizza and prosecco, it was just enough to introduce us to it's magic and ensure that we will return one day to see more. But for now, there was a party to prepare for...