Raj: Buongiorno! Yesterday we arrived in Italy. It was a long drive so we coughed up 40 Euros (about NZD75) to go on the toll road the whole way. I didn't enjoy driving - too many trucks and tunnels and very unclear signs of the speed, and I didn't trust the GPS. Vikki had warned me about Italian drivers and I did experience one altercation when a van simply pulled into my lane causing me to swerve away. Having only had 5 hours sleep the night before due to working through the implications of having my credit card scammed and cancelled (with Vikki's card also scammed shortly after we left NZ), I gladly handed the keys over to Vikki after the half way point. We were glad to arrive at our accommodation, a countryside retreat near the small town of Terricciola, about 30km from Pisa. Our apartment is really nice as is the pool (enjoyable when the temperature reaches the mid 30's). Our only complaint is their is no air conditioning, only a ceiling fan in our room and the kids have nothing. I'll leave the others to talk about our visit to Pisa and Lucca today. Ciao.
Vikki: Under the Tuscan sun would best describe our entrance into Italy. Mid 30's temperatures, a villa in the middle of no-where surrounded by fields of grapes, olives and sunflowers. Perfect.
Italian drivers - well I've read lots and been warned lots, but really at the end of the day its the same as anywhere. The roads and lack of signage around speed is confusing, as is now trying to interpret Italian signs, after getting reasonably comfortable with the French ones, but we managed ok today and fingers crossed (and touch wood) it can only get easier.
It was a not too rushed day today checking out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (still leaning like it was the last time I was here) and then to the small village of Lucca, and a bike ride around the top of the city walls (ramparts). Home for a swim and dinner outside in the courtyard. A very enjoyable day.
Harley & Anouk: Today we went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They began to construct it in 1173 and finished in 1350. Because of the soft ground underneath it, it started to lean to one side after only 5 years. We took lots of photos pretending to touch the tower and did a video for the Hockings Family (check it out under video's) of both of us eating pizza. We also did a bike ride on the walls of Lucca. Harley and dad had their own bikes, Anouk and mum had a tandem bike. It was hot work (not so much for Anouk, cause she couldn't reach the pedals) but it was lots of fun.