A Travellerspoint blog

All Roads Lead You-Know-Where

3 Day, 3 Countries on the Way to Rome

sunny 14 °C

Feb 19


A nice night in Nice? Nice enough to leave us wanting more. We're really just stopping here, en route to Italy, and we're certainly not doing it justice. Our usual lack of an accurate map or directions, however, ensured that we saw more of Nice than we really wanted to. We arrived at our hostel for the night, Villa St. Exupery. This is not an ordinary hostel. Sure, we have bunk beds, we helped washes our dishes, etc., but this place is brightly painted (with painted "Little Prince" murals), has a huge funky dining room, and serves good homemade food. It's in a former monastery, so I suspect it's named after the saint, not the French author. It was nice to hang out in the common room and talk with some of the other hostelers. Also, this place had the holy trinity of breakfast, parking and internet included.

Holy buffet. In Villa St. Exupery, a converted monastery

The drive here could have gone smoothly, but we were very thankful we got here safelly, having seen the afftermath of a huge, guardrail-crashing accident that backed up the highway for two hours. So, I guess we were in the car for about 10 hours today when we expecting 6 and a half.

Feb 20


With even less fanfare than when we entered France, we entered Italy today. Thus, our third country in three days. All in the name of getting Rome at an allegedly leisurely pace. We almost missed the little EU flag with the word "Italia" in the middle. First impressions? Snow-capped mountains in the distance, countless greenhouses on the terraced hillsides, and improbable villages perched on hilltops or plunked in valleys.

We did well with a place to stop tonight in choosing Lucca. First, we were able to grab a nice, cheap lunch at a local place. "Deli," we'd call it at home. This was my first attempt at communicating in Italy. I did well, except when I tried to mime "is it ok to park there?" and got handed the washroom key.

Anica shows the massive scale of Lucca's old-city walls

Then, we found a hotel, that, while over our budget, included breakfast, parking and internet. Once again, our holy trinity. And, it was just outside the old city walls of Lucca. What is it about walled cities? They're so neat to walk around in. The look of this one had more in common with Angkor Thom in Cambodia than it did Sousse in Tunisia, because of the grassy area that was once a moat, and the somewhat sloped wall of reddish bricks. We soon set out to explore within the red-brick ramparts. Anica took over, and guided us flawlessly through the Eye-Witness Guide's "street-by-street" walking tour. She insisted we go into both the cathedral (dedicated to St. Martin, who cut his garment to share with a pauper) and another church (famous for the "King of Lucca" cruxification figure of Jesus. Great story: this black wood carving is said to have been made by a disciple of Jesus, and arrived in Lucca during the 13th century, sailing by unmanned ship and then being carried by untamed bulls). We also saw a medieval tower with a rooftop garden, so you look up about ten stories and see huge oak trees sprouting out of the roof. Anyway, Anica was very enthused about the walk using the map.

A tree grows in Lucca...

Our energy never recovered, however, from the long walk after the long drive. We just ate tuna, olives, chips and snacks in our hotel room, because we couldn't be bothered to wander around the old town again, looking for a good place to have dinner.

Feb 21


On our way again early this morning. We made it to Pisa, and saw a sign for the "Field of Miracles" where The Leaning Tower is. In fact, we saw several signs for it, but not enough. There were always a few missing, and so we'd veer off-course. Finally we spotted the tower itself and got parked. If you're ever going to the Leaning Tower, and don't intend to stay too long, park in the "Pam's supermarket" parking lot one block away. We bought some groceries for lunch, and our 90 minute parking was then free!

Free, too, was our visit, because we had no interest in paying $25 each to go up the Leaning Tower. So we got to look at it, try out the silly "holding up the Leaning Tower" pose, and walk around the yard known as the "Field of Miracles." This is comprised of the tower, the Duomo (cathedral), the Santo Campo, and the bapistry pulpit. The latter is a gorgeous building, like a giant round jewel box.

Pisa's "Field of Miracles

On the way out of Pisa, we took a smaller highway. we soon noticed prostitutes, sitting in armchairs along a tree-lined service road running parallel to this highway. Sometimes, there'd be a chair, but no prostitute. Not on duty, or otherwise engaged, I suppose. Interesting system. Gives new meaning to the term "service" road, doesn't it?

Then, it was on to Rome. All roads lead there, but not anywhere specific in Rome. We still had to find our rental apartment. That meant the usual: missing our exit, going the wrong way, etc. Does this happen to everyone? Shouldn't signs be clearer? Will we get better with the driving/navigating act? Anica sure is patient with us.

But, we per served and found the place, met the woman who's renting it to us, and were pleased with how it looks. Cold, though! The heat is not on 24/7. Even though it was 18 degrees today and we ate lunch outside, now it's about 10 degrees, and it's a good thing heat is available from 6-9. We found out later

So far in Rome, then, we've just settled in and done errands. We bought transit passes and groceries, and had a nice dinner at "home."

Feb 19


"Our Roman Drive"

Today we got up early becuse we had to leave early. It took us a bit of time to get out of Barcelona and to get to are highway. When we finally got on the highway we stopped at a service station so we could use a washroom and maybe (can't remember) get gas. (Longest tunnel so far: 1990 m) Back o highway we went through a couple more tunnels (and by exicts) before going to another servaice staiton to get lunch. When we finaly got to one (enclding oneways and no entry streets) hostel we looked around the hostel, jumped up and down for bunk beds(!) and went to dinner with, orangina, pizza with salami and chesse, ham, and twix for me. G.N.

Feb 20


Today we went to Lucca, which had a pretty, old town behind monsterus red, high brick walls. That wasen't all of the town - the main town was sort of city-like. When we arrived we saw a bakery/shop looking restaurant, where we got a pasta/lasagna looking dish for Mum, a salami sandwich for me, and a Italian sandwich for Dad. We (luckily) found a 3-star hotel by the gates to the old town (pretty and with lions, big plus for me, my favourite animals are jungle cats), pretty rooms, and warm and cozy beds. When we went inside the old town we went on a street by street map in our book. We saw a church (2), a piazza, a statue of Mary and Jesus, Via Fillungo, a shopping street, and a tower with trees on top of it (?). The church had a pretty bell tower. Went home, had dinner, G.N!

Feb 21


"The Bragging Leaning Tower of Pisa and the snap-shot city. Lucca-Pisa-Rome"

Today we went to the worst tower on our trip so far: the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Not better than the Sagrada Famia towers. The Sagrada Famia towers were my favourite. The drive there was ong and we took a bit of time finding the tower. My reasons for not liking the LTOP: not as leaning as I thought it would be, and the Sagrada Familia towers were taller (I like tall towers). The building was neat - but you know...the Sagrada Famia was way better! We went on a higway to Rome, stopping for a lunch break. We got lost by going 20 km the wrong way. But found are (nice) apartment, went out, had dinner (at home). G.N.

Posted by jennrob 12:43 Archived in Italy

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Once in what seems another life I spent a month in Italy. Got off a ship in Naples where I toured to Pompeii. One of the high lights was seeing an opera from a "box". The ceiling of the Napel's opera is beautiful! On to Rome, a week in Florence with a side trip to Venice. I passed Pisa on the train and did tour a different leaning tower. The tower was hollow and due to vertigo it was hard for me to climb backdown. Anica, you are
becoming quite the expert tour guide! You are right about "Bragging" is that a synonym for hype, landmark or tourist trap? By the way is a common characteristic of a tourist trap? The use a foot clamp, rope trip cord or simply over priced ? So Anica is you mum a good cook?

by Mum 2

Great to hear all about your "journey" from Spain to Rome. Sounds like you'll have a lot more to add to that book about driving I said you should write!
We agree with Anica that the Sagrada Familia is way better than TLOP. Those hostels must be neat with all the bunk beds! Hope you find more things to like in Rome--we sure did.
M&D, H&D, N&G xxxooo

by hdbutters

Ooof! $25 to go up the LTOP? Wow. . .prices sure have gone up! I like your comparison with the Sagrada tower, Anica. . .it sounds like you know what you like (and don't). :) Great job!

by chalochale

I never went to the tower in Pisa, but had heard it wasn't much of a thrill so Anica I guess you proved that! I hope you get to see more spectacular sights.
JBWL xoxo

by JBRobinson

Finally you guys are somewhere I've been before! LOL I adored Rome, but I did have an Italian friend to show me around a lot of the time. I'd love to go back there, my memories of it are still so vivid. :) I hope you're enjoying it as much as I did. *hugs*

by Eirien

So nice to hear from everyone! We've added some pictures to the last 2 entries, so hope you enjoy. Anica says her mom is a great cook, and I agree! Sherry, you've been everywhere! We'll have lots to talk about in Ireland. "Eirien," we saw smiling Swiss Guardsmen. How about that? Maybe they'd just impaled a tourist with their pikes. Jean, I've often thought about how you went to Italy - the first overseas trip of anyone in our family, right? M&D, we've seen lots in Rome. I even saw what they named the Italian place in Sherway's old food court after! Remember the Appian Way? Stevie, were you here after Saudi or since? Either way the prices have skyrocketed, I would think. -love to all, from R, J, A

by jennrob

You guys are setting a dizzying pace! Can't believe you've seen more of our nearest continent than we have!! Sounds like you're having a cultural feast too, hope you're having fun as well, all love CRFS xxxx


This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.