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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

10th July, 2015

The route from Civitavecchia to Livorno kept us well outside the Italian islands that are dotted around this coastline and we arrived at a time when there was a fair amount of other ship traffic. A large outbound container vessel was held back as we turned off our berth, and was then squeezed between the breakwater and another following cruise vessel. The pilots, however, seemed to take everything in their stride, all be it with the usual Italian ‘melodic’ running commentary over their walkie-talkies.

My on board commitments precluded my joining the organised excursion, so instead four of us took a taxi to the delightful medieval walled town of Lucca, one of the most picturesque towns in Tuscany. From 1325 until the early 19th century Lucca had been an independent republic and its massive ramparts are in an almost perfect state of preservation, as the town enjoyed long periods of peace and prosperity. It was a relaxing few hours spent strolling around the narrow streets and across squares with churches built in the Romanesque style, having attractive facades in white marble and great aged wooden doors.

There were plenty of tourists and plenty of shops for them to browse, many which still had the original signs above in glass with gold traditional writing, displaying the names of long established family business. Café’s with outside seating were everywhere, awnings and parasols protecting their customers from the intense sun which penetrated the narrow gaps between the tall buildings. The largest square was set up for a series of evening concerts, and bill boards had some very famous names that were due to appear at the famous ‘Lucca Musical Festival’.

We returned in good time for our six o’clock departure, sailing off into a calm sea and heading towards a sunset which was still some three hours ahead.

Captain Philip Rentell

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