I decided to take a day trip out of Florence to see the leaning tower of Pisa and the walled town of Lucca. The Italian train system is usually extremely efficient and it makes taking these type of quick trips a pleasure. However, I didn’t realize that every so often the workers tend to go on strike and totally stop the system for a day or so! So, my quick day trip ended up being a quick trip to Pisa and an overnight stop at Lucca. Pisa is a modern small university town that if it wasn’t for the famous tower really wouldn’t be much of a stop at all. However, the town really makes a big deal of the tower! It’s about a 15 minute walk from the train station, and when you see it for the first time it’s really special. One of my favorite things about Italy is the abundance of famous landmarks that I’ve been told about all my life. Seeing one of these in person really makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something by finally getting here.
After spending a couple of hours at Pisa, I hit the train again for Lucca. This town’s claim to fame is that it is the only Tuscan town to still have its original city walls. The city itself has outgrown the walls of course, but the are still there with proper gates that traffic and pedestrians still have to go thru to get to the historical area. It was here that I found out about the train strike, when I ran into all the transportation workers in the area protesting in the city center. They were waving signs and placards and seemed to be having a great time. It had more of the feel of a holiday type occasion rather than a highly charged labor dispute. 24 hours after the strike began, most trains were running late, but at least they were running. I was ready to head to Venice after another night in Florence to catch a connecting train.