|Pisa was fun! It was a bit long getting here in one day from San Marino, but we endured one bus and three trains over 5 hours and arrived just as the sun was starting to set. We immediately headed to the Leaning Tower after finding a hotel.|
|The first nice surprise about Pisa was how busy and lively
the streets were on a Saturday afternoon at 5:30pm.
|We followed the path recommended by the tourist office and were on
a nice walking street with about 2,000 other people. The river that we
crossed was also gorgeous. The setting sun was reflecting off the buildings
along the river and a nice reflection was visible on the water. It was
just really pretty. But, we didn't pause for long since we wanted to see
the Tower before it became dark.
On the way Seth took a photo of some sailors together in front of a nicely painted building. But, again, we didn't pause for long. We wanted to see the Tower. We even passed an Internet cafe and didn't drop in - we were only minutes from theTower.
|Our first glimpse of the Tower was over the
tops of some buildings. We were close!
As we entered the open square with the Tower, our first impression was that the Tower was much rounder and squattier than we had imagined from all the photos we'd seen of it. After a few minutes we became used to its proportions and it didn't look so portly anymore.
|Our second impression was of how old the Tower was. The
first three sections of it were built in the 1100's. And it was starting
to tilt even within 100 years of being built. Even with it leaning South,
additions were added in the two following centuries as well.
Recently, we read about how the Leaning Tower is being restored and though not returned to upright, it is being stabilized. Therefore there are metal bands around the 2nd level of the Tower supporting it while some works are being done under its foundations.
It was really neat to see this in person.
| After some more viewing of the Tower, we turned to
the other buildings in the open square and realized just what a beautiful
group of buildings surround the Leaning Tower. We'd only ever thought of
the Tower itself. We never realized that there is a big church and a baptistery
and an old wall in the same open square as the Tower.
The church was unique. Seth figured it was built around 1100 - at the same time as the Tower. He also pointed out the gilded gold ceiling. Just like in Milan, a service was being held at the time were were visiting. That added to the character. Along each side of the church there was a long hallway running the length of the building about 1/2 way up to the ceiling. These hallways also had gorgeously gilded ceilings. This extra hallway was unique and different from other churches we'd seen.
|We then walked towards a completely round building and admired it's columns and external bass reliefs. We discovered that this was the baptistery. Since there was an admission charge, we decided we didn't need to see the inside. We thought maybe a walk along the city wall would give us a good view of the sunset, but it was just closing as we walked up to the entrance. We did get an excellent view of the Baptistery though as we walked back from the city wall steps.||
|No problem, we ended up having a very enjoyable evening
outside of the baptistery. The grassy area immediately around the church
and Tower were cordoned off, but the grassy area around the baptistery
was all open and was being used as a public park by the people who lived
nearby. We had fun watching two little dogs chase each other around. One
dog was white and one dog was black, so they of course reminded us of Bailey
and Kahlua. We were even visited by the little black dog for a second.
He scurried up to us, jumped up and down a few times onto Tara's leg and
then went scampering off at full speed. Seth of course said "I want a dog".
One by one, the dogs started going home as it grew dark. Once all the dogs were gone, we noticed a man walking by and saying 'hi' to a black cat that was just around the corner from us. We promptly invited the cat over and discovered that he was really, really, really friendly. He was a big climber and would climb over our backs and over our legs up into our laps. He settled into each of our laps for a while and we really had fun petting him while looking over the grassy area towards the Duomo and the Tower. The lights in the Duomo were just coming on and it was a very nice scene - especially with a cat in your lap. We stayed for much longer than we might have since we had a friend. Our friendly kitty decided to leave us only when a bug flew by and caught his attention.
While sitting and petting the kitty, we talked allot about settling down one day and decided that we'll have to ask all our friend who are "grown ups" for their advice when we do decide to "grow up" ourselves!
Sitting by the Tower was the highlight of our night even though we did have a nice time walking home searching for a restaurant that had anyone in it! The bridge over the river was closed and decorated with real candles placed all along the riverbanks and across the bridge. There were three men dressed in old-fashioned costumes with swords and two men in red robes. It looked like a speech or something was being setup - but we didn't stay long enough to see what it was. We couldn't have understood whatever was being said into the microphone anyway.
We finally found a restaurant with outside seating that served lasagna. It was pleasant and Seth even ordered a Pisa-style soup that tasted very much like one Tara's mother would have made for her. Yummy!
Pisa - Been There Done That !!
|Ease of Journey||-|
Hotel La Torre was the closest 2 start hotel to the train station that was not full! It turned out to be OK.