We found that Le Grazie was a great anchorage to leave Berkeley East and do some day trips. It was large, calm, and scenic, and there were four other American boats anchored there who had scoop on the area. It is rare that we see one other American boat, let alone four, and it was great to share information over happy hour.
Le Grazie also provided a lot of entertainment, including a boat race so important that the police were making boats move if they were anchored near the finish line. A large buoy was set, spectators arrived on shore and by boat. Everyone waited and waited, until one classic rowboat came into view. There were horns and cheering as they passed the finish buoy. And that was that. One boat.
We got to know the area by taking buses and the trains, through the seaside vacation town of Portovenere, to the bustling city of La Spezia, the street markets of Viareggio, and into the walled city of Lucca. We have been to many walled cities before, but most are set on high hills on the coast with a good vantage point of pending attacks. In contrast, Lucca is flat and inland. Once the site of the Roman forum, the rectangular grid of Lucca's current historical centre has preserved the original Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele now occupies the site of the ancient forum. The walls around the old town have remained fully intact as the city expanded and modernized. Today, they serve as a pedestrian promenade. We spent hours exploring the peaceful city, wishing we could return for the Lucca Summer Festival in July, when Elton John, BB King and many other international artists will perform.
Lucca is remarkably preserved and clean. The walls around the old town are supported by large earthen berms and were wide enough to be used as a car race track in the 20th century.
Originally a Roman fishing village, this small town has been occupied by many different cultures. It sits on a point, providing great views out into the Liguria Sea, north to Cinque Terra and south to Tuscany.