After getting off the ferry in Ancona, we headed to Lucca.

Why Lucca?

Because they have parkrun, of course! And after being in non-parkrun countries for months we were determined to get back to it.

We didn’t really know much more about the area, and we were rather worried driving in. The air pollution was terrible, the highways were winding and filled with maniac Italian drivers (no surprises there, but a bit of a shock to the system after the relatively laid-back Croatia), and Florence looked like an industrial wasteland – the bits of it we could see through the smog, anyway. We had planned a day trip to Florence but cancelled that.

I’m sure the art lovers out there are gaping in disbelief that we weren’t interested in Florence, but we’re Australians – we don’t do art.

Luckily, Lucca was MUCH better. The quiet-ish, mostly pedestrian old town was a great place to wander.

Our favourite part was the walls. The current walls were built in the Renaissance, so they’re thick – they had to be to withstand cannonballs. So thick that the top is filled with parks and restaurants and museums, with a shady path all the way around, where we had fantastic views of the city and all of its towers, including the Torre Guinigi from the 1300s, which has trees growing on it.

More about the history of the walls here.

And inside the walls are tunnels, which is interesting enough in itself. But they became even MORE interesting when we found cardboard sculptures.

We spent a lot of time just wandering the city, running laps of the walls, and gawking at all the sites. And eating from the local bakeries, of course.

As always, we found Italian churches breathtakingly over-the-top. The Duomo di San Martino, or Lucca Cathedral, has all the carvings marble you’d expect. BUT it’s topped off with an angel with huge copper wings, and they can make the wings flap on special occasions.

We were really disappointed not to see that – but maybe it’s for the best, as laughing our heads off at the funny flapping angel would probably be frowned upon.

We also went to Pisa for the day, but that deserved its own post.

And then back to parkrun after our three month break! We’ve been running regularly since then and the results showed – 4 of us got personal bests without really trying, even with the headwind.

Holli and Asha ran with bare feet, freaking out the locals (the Italians do NOT go barefoot) but the Brits there were more enthusiastic about it. And we even got to sign their photo board, so look out for it if you visit!

We’ve missed the atmosphere – parkrunners are always such a happy bunch and it was great to chat to like-minded people again. And in English!

Finally, we found our shower interesting. We’ve never had an origami shower before, so decided to show it to you.

Sadly, we only had a short stay because we were keen to get to France, so we headed off to Montegrazie. But we would definitely return to Lucca.