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Cinque Terre or Lucca

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One of the stops on our cruise will be La Spezia and we are trying to decide between visiting the Cinque Terre or Lucca. We are two adults, two teens in case that matters

Looking for suggestions on what people enjoyed at either

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    Visited Cinque in 2007, returning this May with our 2 kids in tow, early 20's. Will be doing both 5T (for 3 days) and Lucca (for an afternoon).

    It is going to depend on what your kids enjoy...I do recall a ton of young people in 5T and that is an environment mine will be more content with than churches/history.

    Denping on your crew, and the time you have in either area, my thought is that 5T would hold their attention and provide more variety. Train, hike, beach, sea, rocks, villages.

    Children who enjoy history and ornate architecture would find more in Lucca enriching.

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    Hi GA,

    They are not at all the same.

    The CT are villages perched on the cliffs above the ocean.

    Lucca is a pleasant, quiet town - good for strolling and relaxing. I don't recommend it for teens.

    ((I))

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    Taxi or bus from La Spezia to Portovenere---about :15 ride---and catch the hop on/off ferry to the CT villages. If the boats are not running you still win since PV is my favorite village on that coast---you will thank me later.

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    Here is my appreciation of Lucca, a small city I greatly admire. As your children are adults, not teens, they might well appreciate this town. (Or they might prefer the CT. Lucca is more my style)

    (Posted by tedgale on Mar 25, 10 at 7:36am):

    Thursday, March 18, 2010:
    Today is our day for visiting Lucca. I have been fearful of driving, finding parking and making our way around this walled town. Florence -- and the mad traffic in rush hours on the SS 12 -- have spooked me. In fact, it is an easy 10 minute drive from the Villa Marta to the ring road around Lucca’s walls; thereafter, we quickly find free parking just off the ring road. We have a bit of a hike to the Porta San Donato.

    Once inside the walls, however, we are struck by the relative silence of the town. We are often alone in the small streets. The exception is the Via Fillungo, the smart shopping street where people go to see and be seen.

    Lucca has much the same feel as Siena: chic yet parochial; absorbed with itself and its mystique; a place where everyone knows everyone and where local affairs are rated much more important than national ones.

    The church of San Frediano’s façade is of cool, white marble; its interior is of a much warmer brown stone. The mosaics on the façade are 13th C; the font is Romanesque; there are fine additions from every century of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I like the way the disparate elements co-exist harmoniously.

    This is one of the best churches I have seen on this trip. I am quite turning against anything Baroque or later: too florid, too stylish, altogether too perfect. In fact, I’m becoming a pre-Raphaelite.

    After its staggeringly beautiful exterior, the interior of the Duomo is a disappointment, by contrast. The florid, arcaded white/green/black façade and the (earlier) campanile are both splendid. The interior has been completely overhauled in the 16th or 17th C; all the mystery is gone.

    The same is true, we read, of San Michele, which is closed when we visit. Its over-the-top white and black façade extends high above the actual building, like the false front of a Wild West saloon. Delightful. But the interior has been “restored” to the point that it has (reportedly) lost all interest.

    We decide we like Lucca very much. For one thing, the Lucchesi seem politer than other people we have met.

    It is also a very liveable, walkable city, in which even very well-dressed people travel by bicycle. R. wants to rent a bicycle and ride around the magnificent red brick walls that encircle Lucca. It costs 2,50 E for an hour. R. completes the lap in 15 minutes, then I do a lap in 15 minutes. The final 30 minutes R. spends cycling through the historic district, revisiting favourite spots from our morning walk.

    Back on the road, we drive 30 minutes to Pisa. I have not seen the Campo dei Miracoli since the 1970s, when we first travelled together to Italy. Since that time, the Leaning Tower has been straightened-up by 14 inches and the whole complex has been cleaned. Emerging from the tunnel on the SS 12, we look straight across the broad Pisan plain, where the whole complex, a few miles off, is dramatically silhouetted.

    Yes, the tower is leaning. It really is leaning a lot.

    What an irony that this marble building, begun in the 12th C, whose subsidence was noticeable before they completed the 4th level of 7+, should still be standing today when the World Trade Center is not.

    There is nothing else in Pisa I want to see. This will be a quick one-hour trip. It is surprisingly easy to enter the city from the North and to find pay-parking in a public lot near the centre.

    The Campo dei Miracoli is overrun, on this sunny day, with young people and with elderly Japanese tourists. No one seems very interested in the gorgeous, glistening exteriors of the Duomo, baptistery and cemetery. Only the tower counts, and that for freakish reasons. Near the entrance to the tower I spot beautiful low-relief carvings of animals and of sailing ships (the key to Pisa’s wealth, before bad times set in, in the late 13th C). No one is photographing them -- but everyone is photographed “holding up” the tower.

    Dinner in Lucca is at the Cantine Bernardine, in the cellars of the huge and opulent Palazzo Bernardine. This restaurant and wine bar is universally praised on Tripadvisor, for the warmth of the welcome and the excellence of the food. We agree.

    The refined menu is built around 100% local products and home-preparation (the cook even cures his own beef for the carpaccio). With a great local wine chosen by the sommelier and a litre of sparkling water, this cost 62,50E plus tip. We float away afterward, through Lucca‘s silent, shuttered streets.

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