The second part of our trip involved a day cycling around the magnificent old city of Lucca – the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini (who wrote the famous Arias from Operas such as La Boheme and Madame Butterfly).  Surrounded by thick 16th Century Rennaisance walls, Lucca is well worth visiting for the beautifully preserved villas and gardens and obviously to listen to some Puccini operas.

After our ride around the ramparts, we had some lunch at a rather quaint little cafe on a side street and then went to listen to the Puccini Opera in an old Cathedral.  Incredibly moving experience.  The acoustics in the church were amazing as well.  Caught the last train back to Florence at 10.30pm which was quite a rush as we had forgotten how to get out of the old town.

The next day we hired a car and drove through the Chianti wine region of Tuscany.  Stopping here and there for a bit of wine tasting we eventually got to La Bottega di Volpaia Restaurant in Radda.  Food was really superb, surpassed only by the beauty of the medieval village itself.  I would love to come back and stay in a villa and the get the chance to really explore this wonderful part of the world.  Slowly, drinking it all in literally and figuratively, in my own time and at a very leisurely pace.  Treated myself to some hand made Italian shoes as well just to prove I’d been there (even if, only to myself).

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