Well, the port didn't change but the city did. We were supposed to go to Pisa and Florence, Italy but Florence was cancelled because of a bicycle event that closed down access to most of the town. We had a private tour scheduled but even Holland America changed around all their tours as well. Mom wanted to see the birthplace of her mother but instead, we went to Lucca followed by the Tower of Pisa in the afternoon. We were split up into 2 vans and ours had free on board wifi. Of course, I didn't bring the iPad but I did have my iPhone and even with a low battery, got Mom onto her email. The first part of our journey was a 40 minute ride to Lucca with everyone in our van very quiet as we all were stocking up on free wifi that worked great. I told Mom that if I were a tour driver, I would give free wifi on board so the people wouldn't ask me questions or bother me while I was driving and I would have what I like, peace and quiet.
Lucca turned out to be a pretty interesting town. The original old town was another walled city with the wall being about 30' high and a bit wider than that on the top, making a great place for the people to walk, jog and bicycle all the way around the old town with great views from the top of the wall while exercising. The vans stopped in the center of the town and left us for 3 hours to walk around the town. They gave us maps and circled the highlights before we took off. We first walked to the wall where we ascended the stairway to the top and walked along the city's perimeter for a while with the joggers and bikers before going back down into the city. We saw the town squares, churches, cobblestone streets with their quaint shops, the shopkeepers beckoning us in to show off their wares. My favorite was the free bakery where we tried out several different kinds of baked goods, baked and served by the local church. Offerings were gladly accepted and we obliged gratefully. We all stopped for some coffee so that we could use the bathroom since no public toilets were readily available and we needed a break anyway. Throughout our wanderings in this village, everyone enjoyed the opportunity for some shopping. Although it wasn't Florence, it turned out to be a nice place to visit.
We met the vans, back where they had dropped us, promptly at noon and we went to a winery for a light lunch and wine tasting. It actually was at a farm a few miles out of the city, a bed and breakfast to be exact, owned by a couple who bottle about 2000 bottles of wine a year from their own vineyard. We walked around the vineyard area before seating ourselves in a nicely decorated room. Serving olives, bruschetta, assorted lunch meats and cheeses with two kinds of wine, our hosts explained their method of growing, harvesting and processing grapes into wine, practiced in this home by the husband's great grandfather and others before him in the 400 year old home. Way better than McDonalds!
After our lunch for €12 each, we drove to Pisa to see the famous tower. It leans to one side. We saw that with our own eyes. We took the usual touristy pictures but no way was Mom going to climb the 300 steps inside to reach the top. Actually, no one in our group made the ascent since climbing up and down, combined with a wait time of 30 minutes to get in, was too much for our group so we walked around the immediate area a little. Mom & I had a gelato, and we left Pisa. We took a panoramic ride back to the ship, stopping at a famous lookout point on a mountain top near Livorno where we took some photos, some with the cruise ship off in the distance. Then it was back home for all of us.
We went to the buffet by ourselves, followed by a comedian at 8pm show and back to our stateroom. This turned out to be another relaxing tour day and Mom enjoyed both the locations and the friendships acquired while on the past few tours. Tomorrow is the island of Corsica, France for a day spent wandering around idly with no commitments or deadlines.