Tower Power

Yesterday we headed out from our hotel to Lucca and then Pisa. Lucca is the only place I had not previously been in Italy on our itinerary, so I was excited. We had a guided tour and then time on our own to wander about. The guide was quite funny throwing shade on the rival town of Pisa who can’t manage to build a tower correctly. It was a charming town, with few tourists and a very walkable center. The bus then took us to Pisa. The tower is still there, still standing and perhaps leaning a little more than in 1993, when I was there last. Gus went off with some friends, so I decided to walk across the river and check out the actual town of Pisa, where there was exactly 1 tourist. Pisa has lovely shady squares and quaint streets. Though I think you need to see the tower once in your life, that is enough. I do think I could spend an afternoon in the real Pisa again. Around 5 we headed to the church where the concert was to be. The symphony rehearsed for an hour or so, and the chaperones found a leafy park nearby. I stretched out on a bench and took a little nap. The ladies of the parish brought homemade treats for us for dinner–everything from foccaccia of the region to vegetable lasagna to almond cake. Church ladies are the same the world over I suppose. They knew how to feed 50 hungry teenagers. The concert didn’t start until 9:30, and the acoustics were such in the church that the reverberations were difficult for the musicians to navigate. The town band paraded down the street and into the church to kick things off, and then the wind symphony took over. They played amazingly despite the acoustics and no air conditioning. The crowd gave them standing ovations and went wild when they played a Puccini (hometown boy) march and of course “Stars and Stripes.” The kids of the town went crazy. You would have thought these musicians were K-Pop stars to them. We made it back to the hotel about 1:00 am and were up and off to Rome by 8:30, which is why I’m a day behind in the commentary. More on Rome tomorrow.

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