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4 Nov – Pisa

We had a sleep in, these early mornings and long train rides are starting to take their toll.

Despite being a little over trains we headed for the train station (we are complete suckers) with Pisa, home of Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) as our destination 1 hour away.

Arriving in Pisa we headed for the information centre and armed with a map headed for the famous landmark – Torre Pendente (the leaning tower) and Duomo (cathedral). We headed down through the old town, past all the big, small and boutique name shops, turned the corner and there it was looking as lean as ever – get it lean … leaning oh whatever its kinda funny.

The tower is Bonanno Pisano biggest cock-up but it also ended up being his signature piece. It was wonky from the start, just three of the tower’s seven tiers were completed before it started tilting, continuing at a rate of 1mm per year. The old girl has been stabilised to her (secure) 1838 angle – 4.1m from the perpendicular – thanks to soil drilling and base-weighting

We wandered the grounds, around the cathedral and bautista (baptistery) and of course every angle of the tower soaking up the glorious sunshine as we walked.

The tower is obviously an architectural marvel if not for all for the wrong reasons of course but seriously its also photographically magical. There are certain angles where in a photo it appears to be straight yet quite clearly as you look at it from that same angle its leaning, kinda cool and spooky all in one.

The tower was definitely cool though I must say watching the antics of fellow backpackers/tourist’s trying to get ‘that’ picture – pushing it, kicking it, leaning against it and whatever else it was they where supposed to be doing – was more entertaining than the tower itself. Having got our fill of towers, cathedrals and hawkers selling us genuine watches, wallets and handbags – unfortunately we just couldn’t find one we liked better than the one we had already purchased – we wandered back to the station another way, stopping for a late lunch along the way.

We arrived back in Florence reserved our seats for the train ride to Rome tomorrow, headed back to the hotel for warmer clothes and then spent the very cool evening wandering the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, and every other palazzo, piazza, square or whatever they are called, there is in Florence.

In 1966 a devastating flood destroyed or severely damaged many important artworks, and the city for the 40th Anniversary had a number of different events going on, one was old footage of the flood being shown at the Loggia della Signoria which stands at right angles to the Vecchio.

We wandered through all the markets and bought some goodies including a lovely woolen cashmere finished scarf for me – everyone else in Europe has one so why can’t I! Besides it’s bloody freezing here at night, even with our big coat on and if I do say so myself it looks pretty darn good.

With icicles for fingers and noses, we had dinner and headed for the warmth of the hotel to pack, thankfully not for an early morning train.


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