AN EXCURSION TO TWO CHARMING ANCIENT TOWNS IN THE HEART OF TUSCANY, PISA AND LUCCA
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For a change, I'll be focusing this blog on one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and keep my Jewish obsession under temporary control.
When I looked at the itinerary of the upcoming Kosher Cruises in 2014, I noticed the ship boards in Livorno, Italy for a long time - allowing for leisurely shore excursions to nearby towns in Tuscany.  One of my recent blogs concerned the Jewish community in Florence the capital of the region. This time I think I'll focus on the marvels of architecture, art  and other culturally and historically important things to soak in, starring the iconic Leaning tower of Pisa .
If you were to ask my opinion, I'd advise picking your excursion by deciding on the amount of energy you want or can expand, and also by how you and members of your group prefer to spend their time. I for one, am a rather greedy traveler, wanting to see everything and cram in as much as is possible to my time in any given place.
In the Livorno stop I'd advise speaking to your cruise director and signing up ahead of time for a guided tour, in which you'll be driven to remarkable places, have expert tour guide explain and describe what it is you are seeing. The reason this is the preferred method, especially for families and groups consisting of varying physical strength and attention span, that it saves time and energy which would go on trying to find your own transportation, plus talking to the guide and expressing special desires and needs.  Besides, I realize not everyone enjoys burying their head in research resources and the guide can enlighten one on almost any subject pertaining to be area.
Also, you can tailor your shore excursion by groups with common interests - for example, I know of people, some older with less staying power, some families with little kids with strollers and nap times or shorter attention spans. These would be candidates for the mini bus tour which picks up near the boat and drives to Pisa to see the piazza of miracles, the leaning tower of Pisa, have some free time to look around the town which had become world famous for its quirky gorgeous structure, while having a chance to climb as high as you desire on the stunning marble staircase, and if you manage it to the top a most breathtaking view is awaiting you, plus a caress of the refreshing Tuscan air as a reward for your efforts.
With still time left you can take a stroll along the Arno river, and see how it carves up the historic part of the city city. If you happen to take the excursion later in the day, the sight of the river at night is the most romantic after sunset, with the lights of the town shining on the water.
This excursion, whether taken morning or afternoon is only about 3 1/2 hrs long.  For those wishing to use more of the docking time and have never been to Lucca, birthplace and home to composer Giacommo Puccini.  Lucca is a fortress city and a favorite of connoisseurs of old Italy. It's extremely well preserved with a renaissance wall, intact and perfect. Locals use the wall as a park, community roof garden and bicycle path. Within the walls there are ancient Romanesque buildings, piazzas filled with fun and there, when time comes to return to ship- you have two delightful renaissance cities under your belt, both filled w history and pulsing vitality.
img credit: roadtoitaly.com
Disclaimer: Cruise Kosher suggests the top Kosher Cruise Agents and is not responsible for bookings made with those companies.