Could we stay another day in Lucca? That was the question of the morning as we tried to rearrange our itinerary. Unfortunately, our room was booked for Saturday night so all dreams of an extra’s night stay in Lucca dissolved. The promise of a return to explore Lucca was enough to forge ahead.
Yesterday, we had purchased a slice of Italy’s famed pan forte, a gooey mass of almond paste, almonds and spices, at the noted bakery Taddeucci. We were sticker shocked to pay 8 euros for such a small piece, so it must be good. One bite and we groaned. It tasted like the spice cabinet fell into the dough. Kurt pointed to the garbage can but I tucked it into the back pocket of my pannier, not so willing to give up on it.
Twenty miles into our 43-mile ride, I felt my energy plummet and called for a stop. I pulled out yesterdays’s pan forte and we shared a bite of the sugary goo. This tastes much better, Kurt said. Even the spices taste good, I replied. Ah, perspective! We had found our new “goo,” instant, delicious energy chock full of almonds and sugar; now we just had to do something about the price.
The ride was easy and pleasant, so much so we took a 6-mile detour to Vinci to see the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and eat lunch.
It was a good thing we ate as we got turned around in the next town of Empoli, just a few miles from our rest point for the night. We switched from Google Maps to Garmin navigation and in no time, we were cutting through the town and found ourselves on the sweetest country road of the day.
Abruptly, the route took a turn decidedly uphill, on a crooked, crumbled lane of serious grades. I thought about the suffer factor, something I chuckled about on Strava but now was fully in tune. At the top (almost top), I collapsed on my handlebars, heart thumping, to rest and wait for the man.
Garmin had pulled a cruel trick on us. With a clear view, I could see our destination down below but Garmin had taken us on a roundabout scenic route.
We regrouped and headed back down the crooked lane and found a much easier route to our night’s lodgings.
Dinner in Montelupo Fiorentina was a true local’s experience. Our first stop at a local pizzeria had the hostess hemming and hawing. The place at 7:39 pm was practically empty but she reluctantly gave us a reservation for 8:00 pm. We left shaking our heads in search of a drink.
We found the Antica Osteria della Sole and spent the rest of the evening enjoying a spectacular feast along with streams of locals out for Saturday night fun. It was one of our best meals of the trip and also the best Tiramisu!