Monday, March 21, 2016

Arrival In Lucca

After a couple of days in Venice it was time to head to Lucca for  our Italian Cooking School. We checked out of the hotel, paid the local visitor tax, lugged our almost overweight suitcase onto the vaporetto and headed to the Venice train station. Our rental car was at the Venice Mestre train station which is not the same as the Venice train station on the Grand Canal. So, we bought two tickets in a machine for Venice Mestre, found the track and boarded the train for our 10 minute ride to Venice Mestre. We rented a car to get from Venice to Lucca because it seemed to be cheaper than taking the train and it gave us more flexibility to see a bit more of the country side. Well, it turned about to be about twice what was estimated (I'll have to look into that) and it rained most of the way so not much site-seeing. We did, however, stumble into an AgriTourist restaurant called Tuscana Fair that was a  nice surprise.  An agritourist restaurant uses only organic locally grown food. That includes wine and meat.  The place was packed with local business men.  It was a very good and healthy lunch.

This is our first time in Lucca. It is not a place that is easy to drive into. Even with the gps, it was a challenge. "take a right on via something (no sign) which becomes via something (no sign) then left on via something (no sign) to find hotel. After what seemed to be a few wrong turns, we stopped at a corner of a narrow street and an even narrower street. I looked out the window of the car and saw the name of our hotel on the window of the building. I turned the corner and we were there. The owner quickly got our luggage and he and I  drove to a special parking place.  No cars are allowed in the walled city of Lucca unless you are a resident. Even delivery vehicles get only a couple of hours midday to do their rounds. 

The proprietor and all the help at the Palazzo Alexander have been very friendly, accommodating and helpful. The hotel itself is old but that is to be expected. It is in an old city. The first and second floor date from the 1500's.

The room is spacious with a nice bathroom and very hot shower. Breakfast is included and has home made cakes, fruit salads along with eggs, meat and cheese. I have nothing to complain about.

The owner recommended Guilio's Restaurant in what was once the leather district (as in making leather...). I had pasta with a wild boar meat sauce and Judy had raviolis in a white herb, cream sauce. Delicious.

The next morning, Judy and I went to our special "resident" parking place as we had to take the car to Pisa to drop it off at the airport, then get a ride back to the  hotel with a shuttle from Road Scholar. I filled up the tank and then realized that the rental contract was back in the hotel. So, we had to drive back to the hotel (see second paragraph). Once again, everything went smoothly as we dropped off the car and found the shuttle driver waiting in the Arrival area for the other Road Scholars.

After an orientation meeting with Christina, our guide, we all went out for dinner at Stella Pelore. There are 11 of us, and, as I anticipated, I am the only male.

Cooking starts tomorrow...

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