We had a leisurely start, and after some computer time and a couple of espressos at our apartment we walked to the train station. Florence is a small, very walkable city, it's only about 10 minutes to the train station!
We bought our tickets for the next train to Pisa, and had just a short wait. It was a nice ride through the Tuscan countryside, about 1 hr 20 minutes. The train we chose just happened to be the "milk run" and stopped at every station, but we were in no hurry so we just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I tried to take a few pictures, but it's pretty hard to do from a fast moving train with dirty windows.
There were some pretty spots, looking like the typical Tuscan countryside that we always think of--with tall cyprus trees, red roofed villas and vineyards. But most of it was just rolling green hills or farmland. Going thru the small villages and towns--well, the prettiest areas of town are NOT usually at the train station!
The train pulled into Pisa about 10:15, we exited the station and looked for the big arrows to the tower, or campanelle, as it is called. Hmmmmm-no big obvious directions, but we finally found a map, and went to check it out. Well, lots of other people had checked it out with their fingers--because it was all worn off in spots, and we couldn't tell what was what!
You'd think this would be obvious! We decided to just follow the people with the backpacks--and we eventually found it. It's quite a hike from the station. Here's our first view, and it really does lean!
The closer we got to the tower, the more people there were--it was crazy busy.
We went straight to the ticket office to buy our tickets for the tower--you all really didn't think we'd pass up an opportunity to climb something, did you? Kinda $pendy at 15 Euros each. But worth every penny!
We had a bit of a wait--our tickets were for about 1 1/2 hours later. We found a little cafe, and bought our breakfast of spinach and ricotta cheese tart. We walked around looking at all the junky tourist shops, and of course had to buy just a couple of small souvenirs. I really need a Leaning Tower of Pisa fridge magnet!
We took several pictures--actually several too many! It's hard to capture how much the tower leans--for some reason it seems much more dramatic in person. Here a just a few of my favorite shots:
The Church of St. Mary (founded in 1064) is a very pretty cathedral with inlaid marble on the exterior. We did take a quick look at the interior, but there was a service at the time, so we didn't want to walk around and intrude. No pics allowed, as usual. There is also a baptistery right next to the church, also decorated in very ornate marble. Construction on it was started in 1153. Finally, the Bell Tower was added in 1173. According to historical records, the designer was anonymous. As the tower started to lean immediately after completion, he likely did not want his name associated with it!
Here's the church:
It was time to line up for our climb--they allow exactly 30 minutes for each group to go up, have a look around, and come back down. They have a
This is looking straight up at the tower while we were waiting in line:
While we were climbing up the tower, it was very obvious that it leans--you could really feel the lean! The stairs were narrow and winding, and the steps are very smooth and worn down with time and thousands of footsteps:
Finally we made it to the top, it's really a very easy climb compared to the Tower of Notre Dame. Only 300 steps up, and worth every one of them. The view is wonderful:
And here we are at the top:
After a short time at the top, our dear guide gently (ha!) informed us it was time to go down. 300 steps down--a piece of cake!
After our nice climb we wandered back through the lovely town of Pisa. It's very charming, with narrow winding streets. Lot's of shops that looked quite interesting, but most were closed as it's Sunday.
We decided a nice lunch was in order, so we found a sidewalk cafe and each ordered a pasta dish and a salad to share. I had the gnocci pera talegga (that's gnocci with pear and cheese) and David had the tagliatelle ci fungi--wide noodles with mushrooms. Both were delicious, and we enjoyed every bite!
We found our way back to the train station, bought our return tickets and hopped on board. The return train was quite crowded, but it was still a relaxing ride back to Florence.
We had a wonderful day in Pisa!
We also had a very exciting evening--at the laundromat! After 2 weeks, some our clothes could stand on their own, I think! But we're good to go for a few more days, and I'm sure we smell better, too!
Tomorrow in Florence: An early morning visit to the central market, then who knows what else the day will hold....stay tuned!