Tis Returns to Italy! Day 45: Last Minute Trip to Montecatini
This morning, as I was sitting in my regular caffè in Lucca, planning to rent a bike and wander around the area a bit, I had the urge to take a day trip. Livorno was top of my list but it was an hour away and it was already noon. So I chose Montecatini, a mere 25 minutes from Lucca. Perfect!
Montecatini is known for its thermal spas and beautiful old town. There were two train stations, so I chose the one that looked most central. There was an area nearby that looked up a bit on the hill, and I assumed that was the upper town, where the beautiful old part of town with amazing views was supposed to be.
Lunch in the Best Seat in the House
As it was 1pm, I decided to eat soon, as restaurants might be closing soon for the afternoon siesta. After checking menus for what was nearby, I was drawn to Foody, a farm to table restaurant with a really good menu at extremely reasonable prices. A homemade tortelli filled with lemons and chestnuts in a duck ragù? I needed to give that a try.
As I showed my vaccination card, a friendly waitress asked if I was alone, to which I responded yes. She said, “Then we will give you the table in the window with the panoramic view!” Well thank you kind lady!
I settled into my “best table in the house” as the waitress brought over my white wine. Phil Collins’s soulful “I Wish it Would Rain Down” washed over me as I sipped on my white wine and enjoyed the lovely atmosphere.
I ordered a half portion of the pasta and a small salad. You could choose each ingredient in your salad, but when I asked if there was a recommendation, the kind waitress offered to have the chef choose for me. Sounds good to me! And it was. The pasta was a work of tasty art. The combination of the duck ragù with the hints of lemon and chestnut in each bite was a surprisingly wonderful combination. The salad was a simple green salad with a delightful cheese and some pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch.
Where are You Hiding Old Town?
Afterward, I headed up to the “old town”. You could take the funicular but it only looked like a ten-minute walk. As I arrived in what I thought was the old town, I realized I still had 50 minutes to walk to reach the actual old town, sitting high on the hill above. The funicular was a 10-minute walk. Sure, let’s walk almost an hour instead. Why not?
As the road twisted up out of the lower town, it rewarded me for my efforts with views that were simply amazing. I passed vineyards, and small restaurants on the side of the road, and tiny little villages. Finally, I arrived in Montecatini’s upper town, at 5 pm, only 4 hours after my journey began! I realized I could have been deep into my explorations of Livorno by now, but this had turned out to be quite the adventure!
Finally, I arrived in the old town which did not disappoint, its tiny center full of old stone houses, quaint, winding side streets, and sweeping views for miles. The town’s activity is based solely on the small piazza, which, despite its small size, boasts 6 restaurants to choose from. One can choose from a variety, including caffès offering meals easier on the budget to higher-end restaurants that were turning people away, already booked for the evening.
I sat on the square, had a drink, and enjoyed the scenery that was my reward for the afternoon’s efforts. Salute!
Ciao for now!