Lucca, Italy

When traveling around Tuscany, one stop that is definitely worth visiting is Lucca. It is a walled, medieval city with plenty of charm and wonderful little restaurants. You probably don’t need more than a half-day to visit Lucca and combining it with a trip to Pisa is probably a good idea. The Duomo di Lucca is truly a beautiful, typical gothic cathedral and is one of the highlights of the city. We definitely enjoyed walking the narrow streets, looking in the various shops, and enjoying a wonderful lunch.

Walking the Narrow Streets
Duomo di Lucca on a Cloudy Day
Rooftops of Lucca

The highlight of our trip to Lucca was climbing to the top of Torre Guinigi, which is a tower with oak trees growing on top of it that offers incredible views of the city. Another point of interest is the statue of Giacomo Puccini, the famous opera composer, that sits in a piazza. Every year there is a festival held in Lucca to celebrate the composer and his contributions to opera.

Trees on the Top of the Tower
Artwork Behind the Altar in the Cathedral
Looking Out Over Lucca

Although we were there on a rainy and overcast day, spending time in this quaint little city was extremely enjoyable. Tuscany has so many wonderful locations to visit, but Lucca is certainly one worth considering if you are touring the area. With its historic wall that is still standing and medieval architecture, you can wander the streets for hours. Located just an hour or two outside of Florence, it is also a perfect day trip if you are staying there as we were.

Statue of Giacomo Puccini
Central Plaza
Architecture of the City from the Tower


Getting Fresh Food at a Local Food Market

Regardless of where you live, getting fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and other items from local farmers is definitely worth the effort. During our time in Germany, we came to rely on the market to get fresh produce, but also to pick up flowers for our apartment. Even here in Colorado, we will go to the farmer’s market almost every weekend during the summer to take advantage of getting items that are being harvested at that time. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to the variety of items that seem to be available in Europe and other places, but we enjoy going to them whenever we can, even if we aren’t buying anything.

Vegetable Market
Variety of Fresh Fruit
So Many Choices of Seafood

One of the most diverse markets that we visited was the one in Tangiers, Morocco. The variety of colors and smells were almost overwhelming with the spices, fresh produce, seafood, and meat that would be trimmed in front of you. You could even buy bones for soups and other parts of the animals as nothing goes to waste. Even though we didn’t buy anything, we were able to try several things as we walked through the stalls from olives to a fresh tangerine. Each owner was very proud of the items that they had to sell and were definitely keen on making sure that you knew anything you wanted about what they had on display.

Various Cuts of Meat
Spice Shop
Seafood Cut to Order

Although every stall was unique in what they had to offer, it was amazing to see the similarities in the way that they arranged their items for sale. Each would put their items out in ways where the colors would contrast one another and naturally draw you eyes to certain items. This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Variations on a Theme and the entirety of the market in Morocco was definitely just that.

The Fish Monger was Happy to Share
Market Stall with Plenty of Nuts
Candy Stall


Eating Healthy when Traveling

Regardless of the length of the trip or the exotic nature of the location, it is always difficult to eat healthy when traveling. Whether it is having to grab a quick bite at the airport or train station, eating a meal while sightseeing, or eating the local cuisine, healthy options are either not readily available or your eyes naturally shift to the more decadent options. Believe it or not, we always weigh ourselves before we leave on a trip and then compare it when we return so that we know whether we need to work on losing any weight we might have gained.

Lasagna in Rome
Duck Leg in Florence
Mussels in Athens
Salmon Chesapeake in Alexandria, Virginia

Although it isn’t always easy to find healthy options when traveling, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible. We love seafood and can’t always get a good variety at home, so one thing that we do is to look for fish or shellfish on the menu and try to select dishes that aren’t necessarily covered in a sauce. Another trick that we use is to share a meal or eat small plates to avoid over eating. Eating healthy doesn’t mean not eating things with flavor, it is more a matter of paying attention to how the food is prepared and whether the restaurant uses fresh ingredients.

Salmon and Spinach in Frankfurt
French Onion Soup in Paris
Rabbit Salad in Pisa, Italy
Deer with Bread Dumplings in Prague

We try to be realistic and understand that we will want to eat a variety of food some of which is going to be fried, smothered in a rich sauce, or covered in cheese and we are okay with that. As with anything, it is really a question of moderation. For example, just because you are in Italy doesn’t mean that every dish has to be pasta or pizza. We are firm believers of eating like a local, but that doesn’t mean that locals don’t have some healthy choices. What do you do to eat healthy when you are on the road?

Spaghetti and Meatballs in Rome
Ceviche in Quito, Ecuador
Escargot in Heidelberg
Fresh Zucchini Ravioli in Italy