After the first part of our pilgrimage earlier this month, we moved on to northern Tuscany. We stayed at Montecatini Terme, a very pleasant spa town. At the same time, the Miss Italy pageant was being held - by coincidence... of course!Each day we visited a different town. First was Lucca, which was new to me. Surrounded by its massive walls, it's a medieval city with very fine churches. We headed for St Martin's cathedral, which houses the Santo Volto or Holy Face, a very old crucifix, much venerated through the Middle Ages. After Mass we had a wander through the old streets then dispersed for a few hours. After lunch a few of us made our way to Puccini's birthplace, where there's a little museum. Before leaving I went into the church of San Michele in Foro in the main square, where I found a beautiful della Robbia terracotta of the Madonna and Child (left).
The next day we hit Florence, where I had been several times before. I was privileged to celebrate Mass in the grand surroundings of the Cathedral, where I found a new translation missal ready marked at all the right pages. Fr M approves! Then after a stroll to the Ponte Vechio and the Piazza della Signoria, we dispersed in the Santa Croce area. After another scrummy pavement Italian lunch we got back to the coach for a drive up to the famous viewpoint over Florence, the Piazzale Michelangelo (see pic).
Our last full day took us to Pisa, where a longish walk from the designated coach park brought us to the stunning cathedral grounds, or Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). The buildings are indeed stunning - baptistery, cemetery, cathedral and of course the campanile, the famous Leaning Tower. I found the cathedral a very beautiful surprise, inside as well as out. Then we made our way via Torre del Lago, the home of Puccini, to the resort of Viareggio for lunch and a stroll. Unfortunately the weather had deteriorated over the morning, but it didn't take away from a lovely day, which we ended with Mass in the parish church of our hotel.
As is our custom the pilgrimage ended with a special supper and presentations. I was delighted to receive a very posh leather cabin-size and wheelable little suitcase, which the group bought because they felt sorry for me lugging my alb, missal and lectionary around in my shoulder bag! Bless...