19 July 2013,
We had an early start today, so we could catch our early train to Pisa to meet our 0930 appointment to climb the tower. We were there in 1991, but the tower was closed for renovations, and I was really looking forward to climbing it. First I had to figure out how to navigate the train station, to the machines and purchase our tickets, then figure out which track to go to. Things went smooth for us, and in about 50 minutes we were in the Pisa Central train station! Following Rick Steves’ guidebook, we walked the “scenic route” to the tower – through the big shopping district that was empty because we were there around 0800. We arrived at the Field of Miracles bout 30 minutes before our appointment, plenty of time to walk around and take some photos.
The climb up was easier than Brunelleschi’s dome (climb down was harder though). The steps have been worn down over the years, into a smooth curve in the middle of the step. They were a little slick in the worn areas, so we had to be really careful. Up on top, it was funny to look down and watch all the idiots people who were doing the “Pisa wave” standing in front of cameras with their hands in the air, as if they were holding up the tower behind them. After climbing back down, we went inside the Cathedral and the Baptistery. They were very nice – I especially appreciated the Cimabue mosaic in the apse of the Cathedral. Amazing that these things are so old!
Almost all of the artwork is in the museum there, and we did go in. My main reason for buying these tickets, was the unobstructed view of the tower from the courtyard inside. I enjoyed getting up close to many pieces of architecture that was up on the tower and Cathedral at one time, statues and column pieces. Some of the faces are just creepy --- these aren’t exactly Donatellos or Michelangelos. It was a nice museum though.
By this time, it was noon and we were both hungry, we left early before the hotel’s breakfast started. We found a nice little restaurant up the street with tables under umbrellas (SHADE!!) and had paninis. It was very good, and the cold drinks were good too. It felt great to just sit in the shade, eat an easy meal and a cold drink. We decided to scratch the side trip to Lucca; we’re both just worn out, so we headed for the smaller train station in Pisa that was closer to the tower, and bought tickets back to Florence.
After arriving back at the hotel “dead dog tired” we took a break for a bit, then headed out for some dinner. We didn’t have any particular place to eat, and decided to wander up by Accademia and just find a place. We ended up going out of the touristy areas, which I thought would be good, only the restaurants don’t open till after 7 – Italians don’t even THINK about dinner till around 9. We got caught in a downpour, and of course we didn’t have an umbrella – this is the 2nd evening we got caught, and the first night, a street vender was walking around selling umbrellas for 5 Euros. We bought one then, but left it in the hotel tonight. We bought a 2nd 5 Euro umbrella tonight. We found a nice little trottoria finally, and ordered dinner. We got bruschetta to start – bread with sweet besteaka tomato’s and olive oil. Tony got carbanara again, and I’m not sure what I had – Penne with olive oil and pesto and it was very good.
We got gelato on the way home, again at a new gelateria. Tony got chocolate, and I had hazelnut. I think I have a new 2nd favorite flavor! Mine was awesome – chocolaty, yet nutty. We walked through Piazza Vecchio as we ate our gelato, took some photos of fake David, and the statues outside the Uffizi. We decided to look at the Savaronola plaque, and see how many people would come look at it, just to see what was so interesting LOL. Within less than a minute, 2 people were standing beside us looking down. The rain had cooled things off, and it was actually getting chilly. We headed back to the hotel to rest. Tomorrow is a ‘break day’; we’re both worn out. I’m not even setting an alarm tonight!
We do finally plan to go inside the Cathedral, but that’s it. The Florence marathon is over, now a few day to rest and then the Roma marathon starts.