Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Giro (or lack thereof) and Lucca

On Tuesday, we thought we would attempt to view a stage of the Giro in the middle of the stage, hopefully near the feed zone. We reviewed the Official Programme 2011 and picked the town of Piano di Follo. We set the GPS and went on our way. Within 4 miles of our destination, we ran into a sign that said that traffic was diverted or something to that effect. We drove around trying to find an alternate route with the GPS lady telling us to "turn around when possible". We eventually found the town and asked at the city hall if anyone spoke English. No one did, but one lady, when we showed her the page in the Giro programme that listed her town's name, said "Si" pointing to the main street indicating to us that the bikers would be coming through that way.

We checked out the area and the next town on the route to make sure we were at the right spot. We parked in the shade and waited. One truck came by with Giro signs and a loudspeaker trying to sell Giro goods. This made us sure we were on the right road, but there were no other people. With the tragic death of a rider in yesterday's stage, we didn't know if they had canceled or changed today's stage. We had left home too early to check the internet, and of course cannot understand anything on the radio. I called Kevin and he checked the internet and told us the stage was neutralized (no stage winner on that day) but they were riding the route in honor of the biker. So, we waited some more. We finally left after the time passed when they would have had to pass to get to the finishing town at a reasonable time.

We drove towards where we think they would have come from but never found any sign of the race. So we drove home to have dinner later that night in our local restaurant that is highly rated. We had an interesting and pricey time. The antipasta of different items inside a light pastry shell included a herb mixture, a mushroom mixture, anchovies, and a cheese mixture. I ate all, but Beth skipped the anchovies. We also were served a plate of very thin sliced fat, and a basket of bread pieces. The fat was like very thin bacon but with no meat in the slices.

We then had a plate of pasta. I had ravioli with ragu with red meat sauce. Beth had a pasta dish with chicken and asparagus. We also were served a red table wine and water. The pasta dishes were good - I finished mine, but there was too much for Beth. We then had a dessert. I had strawberries and cream and Beth had a small chocolate cake with some orange in the center.

I woke up the next morning with a headache. Red wine almost always does this to me. After I had a nap and some ibupofren, we headed for Lucca. We had read Rick Steve's entry on this town, so thought it was worth the trip. He mentioned that the well preserved city walls/ramparts were ringed with parking lots. We saw a lot of street parking but no lots, even though we saw electronic signs telling us how many places were available in various lots/ramps. We finally parked in a street spot and put our coins in to get a ticket to put on the dash showing what time we had paid through.

We toured the town. A lot bigger than we thought and not very picturesque. There were hundreds of young people on bikes. They were all coming from one direction, so maybe school had just let out for the day. On every street we walked, we were continually dodging cars, bikes and motor scooters. It was noisy (the scooters), and busy. Not at all what we had pictured from the description that Mr. Steve's had in his Italy book. We did enjoy a gellato as we walked around trying not to get run over.

We drove home, stopping at McDonald's for lunch/dinner and had a relaxing evening at home. The lady at the local restaurant had mentioned that she had WiFi, so we gave it a try. She gave us the name and password but it didn't work. We thought we had finally lucked out in having WiFi access 20 paces from our fromt door, but we could not get connected.

We called to make a reservation via phone to visit the two main museums (the Accademia and Ufffizi Gallery) in Florence for a day next week. It's recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially in the peak months from May-August, or possibly stand in very long lines waiting to get in. The only times available next Tuesday was 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM, so we chose 8:30. We will have to leave home by 5:30 to make sure we can find parking and walk to the museum to make our appointed time.

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