Day 6 in Tuscany – Pisa, Lucca, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Day 6 – Pisa > Quick lunch at Pisa > Lucca > Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella > Dinner near the Oltrarno area

After having a quick breakfast in our apartment, we went to catch the train to Pisa Centrale. The train ride took about 1hr from Firenze SMN station. There is a bus to get to the leaning tower from Pisa Centrale. We waited for about 5-10mins but couldn’t see the bus, so in the end, we walked to the leaning tower from train station which took us about 20-30mins.

Map from http://www.italyguides.it/en/tuscany
Map from http://www.italyguides.it/en/tuscany

We were rushing to the leaning tower as we booked the ticket online in advance to get inside at 10am. The access is limited to 40 people at one time and the visit lasts for 30mins. All our bags need to be kept at the luggage desk and only cameras are allowed to be brought up the tower.

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The view from the inside of the leaning tower. Another 294 steps up to reach the top! I couldn’t really feel the tower was leaning as I walked up.

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This is the view from the top of the leaning tower. It was not as spectacular I thought it would be, as you’re actually on the leaning tower, rather than viewing it, and apart from the Cathedral there’s not much else to see, but it was still an interesting experience to get inside the tower.

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The bells on top of the leaning tower.

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The leaning tower has different reclining level from different angles, so you should walk around the tower to find the best spot for maximum lean.

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On another angle, it looks as if it is straight! Is it my photo taking skills or just the angle?

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Once you find the perfect angle, strike some funny pose with the leaning tower like all the typical tourists. Some poses require physical strength and most importantly, you need a good photographer to find the perfect angle.

Here are some examples:

http://boredbug.com/the-12-most-awesome-pictures-of-tourists-posing-at-the-leaning-tower-of-pisa/

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The Baptistery, Cathedral and the leaning tower.

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Pisa leaning tower

Opening hours:

Jan 7 to Feb 10:00-17:00; Mar 09:00-18:00; Apr to Sep 08:00-20:00; Oct 09:00-19:00; Nov to Dec 21 10:00-17:00; Dec 22 to Jan 6 09:00-18:00

Entry is generally allowed up to 30 minutes before closing time. The Cathedral is open to visitors from 10 a.m. (1 p.m. on holidays)

Prices:

Leaning tower €18 (this ticket cannot be combined with others);

Cathedral admission free (ticket included in combinations);

1 building/museum €5.00; 2 buildings/museums €7.00; 3 buildings/museums €8.00

Ticket office website: http://www.opapisa.it/en/plan-your-visit/ticket-office.html

I could spend hours there striking all kinds of creative poses with the tower but Mr Map dragged me out as we needed to catch a train to a nearby city Lucca.

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We had a quick lunch with kebab and calzone near Pisa Centrale.

We were finally in Lucca after a 30mins train ride. It is a beautiful old city recommended by Mr Map’s coworker. it was pretty quiet when we were there and not a lot of tourists were there.

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Basilica di San Frediano – one of the many Basilica in Lucca

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Piazza dell’Anfiteatro – a large circular piazza in Lucca

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There is not much to do in Lucca apart from admiring the architecture, and the historical buildings make it great for taking photos.

We stopped at Pizza Da Felice after wandering around the city. It was a pity that we couldn’t have our lunch in Lucca as there are a few nice restaurants in the area.

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The thin crusted pizza was quite good. In fact, all the pizza I had in Italy were really good. All of them are fresh from the oven and very crispy. This is definitely one of the many things I miss most about Italy.

Pizza Da Felice

Opening Hours: Mon to Sat – 10:00-20:30

Address: Via Buia 12, Lucca

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187898-d1825982-Reviews-Pizzeria_da_Felice-Lucca_Province_of_Lucca_Tuscany.html

Lucca is a more relaxing part of our trip and luckily not a lot stairs to climb (as I remember) and not a lot to do. It is less commercial and more quiet comparing with Siena. If you are on a tight schedule and only able to visit 1 old town, I would skip Lucca and just go for Siena as there are more iconic sights there. Nevertheless, I was quite happy that we took some nice photos around the town, and quite relaxing to spend half a day not surrounded by throngs of tourists.

Due to our jam packed sight seeing schedule, I did not have the chance to shop in Florence even though there were many shops around. I think Mr Map planned this itinerary on purpose…Luckily, I managed to visit one of the most famous shops in Florence after our visit in Lucca.

I was finally here in Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella! This pharmacy has branches all over Italy and the world but this is their original/headquarter shop with over 400 years of history. The shop itself is an attraction with its historical decor.

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I would highly recommend everyone to pay a visit to this shop even just for window shopping. The pharmacy is famous for using medicinal herbs cultivated in their monastry garden in their products. Their products are a bit pricey but the quality is good. I bought their top selling rose water and a day cream called crema idralia. The rose water smells great but the glass bottle is quite heavy, I found the cream a bit thick for my skin. I bought this travel size Marvis toothpaste from supermarket. It is a famous toothpaste brand in Italy used in some high end hotels.

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We got hungry after walking around all day and ready for a nice Italian meal. Il Santo Bevitore is a popular modern Italian restaurant located on the other side of the arno river.

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We didn’t make reservation in advance but we arrived as soon as the restaurant opened at 19:30, hoping that we could get a table for dinner. We were lucky enough to get the last two seats at the bar.

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The carpaccio

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We ordered the specialty in Florence – pappa al pomodoro (bread & tomato soup). We expected something like a tomato soup that we normally have but turns out it is a lot thicker, and more similar to a chunky bread dip.

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Shell pasta with duck

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The fish was really good. Nicely cooked and seasoned. One of the must have dish from the menu.

Il Santo Bevitore

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri – 12:30-14:30 & 19:30-23:30; Sat – 12:30-14:30; Sun 19:30-23:30

Address: Via Santo Spirito 66, Florence

http://en.yelp.com.hk/biz/il-santo-bevitore-firenze

We had our daily dose of gelato at La Carraia which is few steps away from Il Santo Bevitore. It is one of the best gelato shops in Florence according to visitflorence.com

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We were a bit greedy this time and chose 3 flavours 🙂

It was quite a bit of a walk to get back to our apartment after dinner but we needed one as our stomachs were about to burst. I would highly recommend anyone planning the similar itinerary like ours to wear flats or sneakers. A pair of thick heels would be good to wear for dinner as the pebbles road is very likely to kill your high heels. On an additional note, no matter what you wear, you have to look stylish because you’re in Italy!

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