Sorry for the late reply.
Hi Lourdes. I have returned from our Florence trip. Sorry I couldn't reply earlier. My laptop was stolen along with my backpack. So I had to wait until now. Thank goodness I kept the passports separately.
We liked Pisa a lot more than Lucca. The tower is unusual and impressive. Although I thought 15 euros to climb it is quite expensive. Lucca has the interesting wall, and the small town atmosphere. There are certainly quite a few churches, but by then we have seem so many churches that it was becoming a blur. We visited Museo della Cattedrale. The Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi is also very interesting. We were the only visitors there! The whole museum was empty.
A quick question. I bought the train tickets through an authorized ticket seller. Mostly because there were no lines. The ticket office was right next to the regular ticket windows. I am thinking I was probablay paying a surcharge. Is that correct?
One thing I like to comment on: I was disappointed with the food druing this trip. I am really surprised to find myself saying this. As a person who loves food (perhaps a little too much), great Tuscan cooking is something I anticiapted with relish. What I found during the trip is that food is really expensive that didn't taste all that good. I think this is partially my fault. Because we are turists, we tend to go where the attractions are. When it comes time to eat, we simply picked one many outdoor trattorias that are found in piazzas everywhere. I think these type of places caters to tourists. I don't recall seeing any locals eating there.
I understand there is a premium to be paid for the location. And it is wonderful to eat outdoors in a charming piazza. But I wish the food tasted better. Pastas and pizzas are generally fairly good. But anything beyond that is hit and miss. For example, we ate at an outdoor cafe at Piazza SMN. I ordered Pollo Cacciatore. (I make this at home sometimes). That's 14 euros. Add a small serving of potatoes, another 4 euros. Add cover charge, water, and some wine, all of sudden it is 30 euros, just for one person! I didn't even order primi or dolce. I would not have minded as much if it had tasted good, but what I got was two tiny pieces of chicken, more bones than meat, drowning in watery tomatoe sauce. I can say without a shred of arrogance, that my own version is better.
What I have noticed is that resturants away from touristy piazzas tend to cost less and taste better. But not being familiar with the city, we don't always know. I wish I had thought to ask you for some recommendations. For what it is worth to future readers of this thread, you are better off if you stay away from restaurants in piazzas.
After we visited Pisa and Lucca, we returned to Florence. We checked out Piazzale Michelangelo, S. Miniato al Monte, S. Croce, and Bargello museum. Amici degli Uffizi turned out to be a wonderful investment. (Thanks again!)
As it turns, our trip has one more little surprise waiting for us. Because our flight out of Florence was 45 minutes late, we missed connecting flight back home. We were forced to stay in Frankfurt for one night, took the next morning flight home.
All in all, this has been a great trip, made all the better by the kind advice I received from you. I wish to thank you again for your kindness and generosity. This will not be our last trip to Florence, but I will try to ask for restaurant recommendations next time.
Good to hear from you again!
Thanks for your reply. I thought you took offense at my question about children so you did not reply. I am glad to be wrong. How have you been? Florence must have been crowded this summer. Did you take a vacation? Get a chance to visit the states? California has been unusually cool this summer. Not that I mind. I generally prefer cooler weather.
After living in Italy for a decade, do you find that you miss the states sometimes?