Jo’s Monday walk : Dizzying heights!

Did you wonder why we deserted lovely Lucca so early to catch a train?  And did you spot those Medici balls again?  Hard to miss them in this part of the world.  When we landed at Pisa airport I was immediately smitten with the soft light, over the backdrop of mountains that I somehow had not expected.  The sun was sliding down in the sky, bathing even the unromantic Ryanair flight in opalescence.  I knew that I could not come this near to one of the wonders of our world without taking at least a fleeting look.  So Lucca was left behind, and that man Garibaldi took centre stage.

I think that faded grandeur best describes Pisa, though it was obvious that modernity was making a comeback.  I found it a ‘gritty’ kind of place, on brief acquaintance, but I’m sure that there are many more treasures to discover.  It’s an easy walk from Pisa Centrale station, crossing over the River Arno and heading up medieval Borgo Stretto, with its straggle of cafes and shops.

Very soon I was back in the company of Giorgio Vasari.  As well as Palazzo Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor in Florence, he was responsible for Piazza dei Cavalieri, the magnificent  Knight’s Square in Pisa.  In front of Palazzo della Carovana stands his former master, Cosimo 1 de Medici.

Following Via Santa Maria, a familiar sight soon appears.  “Look!  It does!  It leans!’

And then, ‘Are you going up?’  It’s a quarter to 4 in the afternoon and there is no queue.  What am I waiting for?  Of course I’m going up!

It’s a bright blue day, but with a brisk, cold wind.  The marble steps inside the tower are well worn and there’s no hand rail.  As expected, the ‘lean’ has a slightly disorienting feeling, but there is plenty of time to negotiate them.  At the top the wind is blowing fiercely and I step into the space between the bells for a brief respite, 55 metres up in the air.

The views are wonderful and I notice, almost for the first time, the sturdy walls of the city.  Still, it’s a relief to be back in the stairwell, making my way cautiously down the steps.  ‘Did you wave?’ I ask.  No, he didn’t.  Apparently at that moment the chief of police had appeared in a shiny new Lamborghini in the piazza below, thrilling the crowd.  It’s Italy, after all!

Piazza dei Miracoli, the Square of Miracles, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which lives up to its reputation.  I wandered around the huge green (albeit with a slight ‘list’ in my step) and was grateful that this beautiful tribute to the maritime might of Pisa had survived.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Baptistry complete the miracle.  The doors alone, resplendent with Pisan history, are worthy of a visit.

Youngsters sprawled on the grass- it almost seemed sacrilege to me!  Out beyond the walls, life goes on.  I smile and shake my head at the traders, and head back along the outside of the walls, through Knight’s Square, for a tired return to the station.

What I could have done with a little more time, but that’s the story of my life!  This itinerary with Discover Tuscany would have been perfect.  They also have suggestions for 5 Days in Tuscany that might be of interest, Gilly and Jude.  You don’t need to drive to see most of it.

This completes my rambling in Italy, though there are many photos as yet unshared.  What a time I had!  As many of you will know, I’m in the Algarve when this hopefully appears.  My WiFi access is limited, and deliberately so, as it’s my ‘chill’ place.  I will attempt to keep up with you, but apologies in advance for anyone I miss.

I hope to return to walk with you on Monday, 10th April.  Many thanks for your company on Jo’s Monday walks.  Kettle on, it’s sharing time!

This man surely knows the way to my heart!  Many thanks, Drake :

Glimpses of Paris

Staying close to home, Eunice takes us on a fact finding mission in the West Pennines :

A walk up Winter Hill and some interesting facts

Anabel meets a very friendly chipmunk this week.  Maybe a touch too friendly!

Deer Mountain

Lady Lee extends her Philippines visit to the island of Sabtang :

Batanes Trip, Day 2 – Sabtang Tour

Still in Mexico, Jackie’s moved up the coast a little :

La Noria

Meet the Lucerne Lion this week, with Woolly :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk 12

Couldn’t miss this one out!  Viveka is always so colourful and I love the donkey photo!

Walkabouts in Marrakech

Vertigo sufferers beware!  Becky’s ‘on top of the world’ :

Walking across the ‘tallest’ stone arch in the world

Just one more of those places I’d like to see for myself, Jaspa :

Sam’s Ses Challenge#13 Water 

So lovely to have Lisa around again, though her life is anything but smooth sailing!

Singapore and Beyond

And isn’t it wonderful to have chirpy friends?  Thanks so much, Paula!

How green is my home!

Many thanks to all who have shared, walked or just read.  Please take care till the next time!


  1. Loved hearing about the chief of police appearing in a shiny new Lamborghini. 😀 If that was in our country, I think he might be investigated on how he had enough money to buy a Lamborghini on a policeman’s salary.

  2. Hi Jo! Seems like you had a wonderful time in Italy. So happy for you. Tuscany has been on my travel bucket list for so long!! These buildings, the amazing architecture and the blue sky. Breathtaking! I love the shot where the tower seems to say “peckaboo” from behind the cathedral 😉 I walked with my family today to find the wildflowers, hope you’ll have the time to take a quick peek on my walk. Have a wonderful walk today! Kathrin

    1. Hi Kathryn! 🙂 Lovely to catch up with you again. My only complaint about Italy was that I couldn’t be there longer. Some people are just greedy! 🙂 🙂 Thanks a lot- be with you soon.

  3. As someone who has a dream to travel the world, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have come across your amazing blog through our mutual friend, Miriam! Your photos are fantastic, and I look forward to following along on your incredible journey!

  4. Looks like you had a wonderful time, Jo! I went up the leaning tower about 30 years ago, can’t remember much… it WA s good to see your images

  5. It’s been lovely following you on your Italian walks Jo and this one was no exception. Yes, that tower really does lean! Wonderful pics as usual which totally transport us there with you. Cheers xo

      1. The tower wasn’t open when I visited (a gazillion years ago). I doubt I would have climbed it anyway, especially as you say there is no handrail. The colour of the Pisan sky is magnificent.

  6. I’m just now catching up with your Italy visit. You always know how to make a place enjoyable! We were in Pisa last autumn – what a fun thought that our feet must have walked the same steps 🙂 – but my came with hoards more tourists. Have a wonderful time in the Algarve. – Susan

    1. Hiya darlin 🙂 It’s always a lovely surprise when you pop up. We arrived back home in the UK last night and I’m sitting in my living room feeling strangely disoriented. Where to pick up the thread of my walks? I’ll start with yours 🙂 🙂

  7. Fantastic shots, Jo. Such gorgeous blue skies. I am surprised and happy to find out that Pisa offers more than “just” the leaning tower. I would be worried it might fall over when inside, with so many tourists every day… 🙂 Hope you are enjoying your break “away from it all”!

  8. I gasped and oohed and ahhed as I walked through this post. You never fail to deliver with your white buildings juxtaposed against the blue skies whether in Algarve or Italy. I don’t remember ever seeing such beautiful pictures of The Tower of Pisa. Italy is calling me.

    1. Hi Lisa 🙂 🙂 I’ve certainly had my share of blue Algarve skies this past week or so, but I still love looking back at photos of my Italian adventure, distant though it now seems. The hills here are strewn with cistus and carpets of wild lavender, gorse, tiny irises and orchids. Spring is so beguiling in the Algarve. I will be sharing when I’m home again. Hope all’s good with you and your man?

      1. Can’t wait to see your captures of the Algarve in all its splendor. We are immersed in boat work in Thailand but the good news is that less work is required than predicted and we’ve taken an apartment for the month while the boat is under repair so I’m enjoying a little land time 😀

  9. Simply stunning Jo- your photos are amazing! My dad has been there but don’t think he ventured up the tower. Looks like you had a wonderful time in Tuscany – hope you are enjoying the Algarve! 🙂

  10. Another beautiful walk! I agree – the square where the tower is located is stunning, but other parts of Pisa left me cold. I also climbed to the top – and then clung on! I didn’t love it!

    1. Hi Lisa 🙂 🙂 I think I could have found a few more interesting nooks and crannies given the time but Borgo Stretto was a bit tacky. Florence and Lucca were a hard act to follow.

  11. I loved my visit to Pisa but I also loved the walk to Pisa Centrale station – there’s so much to see en-route (including a fabulous gelato shop) and your photos brought the memories flooding back. The Field of Miracles is breathtaking isn’t it. Enjoy your break in Portugal.

    1. I really didn’t want to leave Lucca, Suze, and I probably made unfair comparisons. I really needed another couple of days for Tuscany, but then I’d have wanted a couple more… 🙂 🙂 Can’t help being a greedy person, but I count myself lucky to have seen all I did. Thanks, hon!

  12. Love this: ‘…the chief of police had appeared in a shiny new Lamborghini…’ As you say, only in Italy! Oh Jo, I have missed too many of your lovely posts, and since Tuscany is at the near top of my ‘to visit’ list, I have been wanting so much to read all about your travels. Thank you for the links! I will go back and read what I can, even I don’t comment on all, please know I have done so. Wonderful photos are narrative as always, even if I do feel a little dizzy now, heights not my thing yet I always seem to find my way to the top of the tower like you. Strange that isn’t it? Love & hugs to you lovely lady, enjoy the Algarve, although I know I don’t need to say that 🙂 ❤

    1. I’ve missed you, Sherri, even though I know there are good reasons not to be here. I’m a little dizzy tonight from too much wine with Algarve neighbours. Love you, darlin. Take care xxx

  13. oh wow what a fabulous day trip you had, and the skies were perfect for all the marble. Gorgeous shots Jo. I’m not sure I would have been able to join you up the tower . . .I could have got up easily but the coming down without a handrail may have just finished me off!

    Do hope the Algarvian skies are just as blue but warmer xx

  14. What a walk! It was to me a great joy to see so many Pisa photos, because I have seen only those presenting Leaning Tower of Pisa. I did not have any idea about this beautiful town. Thank You.

  15. All I saw of Pisa was the Centrale. I had heard from some that the tower wasn’t really worth the time, but I can see from your post that the view from the tower is priceless. One of my favorite climbs is Sacre Coeur, for the same reason. I should add that it’s not a terribly hard climb.

    1. I’ve done and loved Sacre Coeur too, Angela. 🙂 The Leaning Tower was altogether different, and I’d heard that it was overestimated, but sometimes you just have to see for yourself. It really is a beautiful sight. 🙂

  16. Another place in Italy I am desperate to see, Jo. Thanks for taking me there in advance! I am not sure I would try the walk to the top of the tower, though, so your photos will have to do. How breathtakingly beautiful everything is!

    1. It’s never been especially high on my list, Noelle, and I’d heard that it was overestimated but I just had to see for myself. I thought it was beautiful and well worth the hype. 🙂 I hope you get there some day. It needs people who appreciate it. 🙂

    1. Hi Jordan 🙂 Thanks a lot for the kind words. I use a tiny Canon Digital Ixus 9515. I’m not at all technical. I just know what I like and use a little enhancement software on Windows 10. I’ll certainly visit as soon as I can. I’m in the Algarve for 2 weeks and prefer to keep this time as a quiet space away from social media.

    1. I don’t remember ever seeing photos of the bells, Meg, and they were a beautiful surprise, though what else would you expect in a bell tower? 🙂 🙂 No rest for the wicked, m’dear! Out with our walking group today but it promises to be a beautiful 14km. Packed lunch as there won’t be a restaurant handy, but we’re sure to find cake afterwards. The photos will struggle to compete as I think Tuscany is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been. Take care, darlin. 🙂

      1. And you’ve been to many lovely places. 14km sounds impossible to me at the moment, but I’m sure it’s a walk in the park for you. My hugs can manage it, so look for them in odd places. My brilliant son’s just linked all my computers to wifi so that’s one of my satisfactions for the day.

      2. ALL your computers? My humble notepad thinks it has a madwoman in charge. Who am I to argue? It knows best. 🙂 🙂 Multitudinous, rather winey, hugs, Meg…

  17. What a fantastic tour, Jo! I wouldn’t have gone in the leaning tower because it would probably have kicked off my vertigo, but now I never have to because you’ve done it for me! 😀

  18. Truly delightful and I am glad you went up the tower – those bells are beauties, but a good thing they didn’t ring whilst you were standing so close to them. My daughter was a bridesmaid for a friend who got married in Pisa; a wonderful setting. Her partner and son managed the climb, but I certainly wouldn’t manage it, not without a handrail. I might get up, but I’d never get down again!!

    (Have you changed cameras recently or using some post editing software? The details in your Italian job are very sharp.) One room painted, one to go, in between weeding the garden, mowing the lawn and doing the washing! And it is almost the end of March and I haven’t been anywhere this month! Where does time go?

    1. Why didn’t I know about the bells, Jude? They really were magnificent 🙂 🙂 Same camera but the software on my new laptop allows you to enhance and it does become addictive. Sorry 😦 Off out with the walkers today. Relaxing tomorrow 🙂 🙂 Take care, hon. I’ll be around.

      1. No apologies necessary – your photos are brilliant. Enjoy your ‘walk’ (I say that in quotes because knowing you it will be no less than 14km up and down hills). I’m having a day off too – taking garden rubbish to the tip; farm shop; garden centre and supermarket shopping and then a BIG glass of wine!!

      2. Pete seduced us into a level walk but then we were accosted by brambles and a final uphill struggle. The wild orchids, though, were a wonderful reward. As was the much needed wine at the end. 🙂 🙂

    1. The Algarve is a lovely mix of friends and adventure for us. Out walking with a group tomorrow. A whole day of chilling is as much as I can do 🙂 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  19. I’m amazed at how much you manage to see in that short time you were there. You must be all over the place at the same time.
    I have now booked my little romantic B&B for 4-10th of March next year. RESIDENZA IL VILLINO –
    Flights I can’t make my mind up about. Either over Zurich with Swizz Air or Dusseldorf with Berlin Air. I have to change flight somewhere.
    That will give me a full day for Siena too.
    Your images are so beautiful, but I don’t know if they will make me climb up in that tower. Pisa isn’t on my bucket list … for me, Siena is more interesting.

    1. Definitely Siena, Vivi! I was sorry to have missed it. But Pisa was a very easy half day with excellent rail connections. I’ll check your hotel link tomorrow. Earlyish start in the morning because we have a group walk in the hills. Looking forward to it and the weather is lovely. Hugs, darlin!

  20. Ooh I don’t remember you saying you went there! I have a vague fancy but possibly a box ticking, but you’ve added appeal to it now. Thanks for the link, it’s a good one. I know I want to see Siena and Lucca, maybe Bologna, but I’m trying to resist doing too much for once. Happy hols honey, I hope the sun’s shining on you x:-)x

    1. Thunderstorms for our arrival, Gilly. Becky was flying back yesterday evening and it was torrential. Still haven’t heard from her so I hope she’s ok. She’s back with her Mum next week and we’re meeting for lunch. The rain eased about 7 and I still managed to get out for a Mother’s Day supper at Bica 🙂 🙂 It’s settled again now for the next week or so, 20-25C are my perfect temperatures. Walking tomorrow with the gang. 🙂 Pisa was potentially very interesting but a bit grungy. I don’t think I would have added Bologna to this particular trip but definitely Siena. It’s a good website and hopefully will give you a few ideas. Hugs darlin! Love you!

  21. I agree with your assessment of Pisa. Away from the Tower and the Cathedral it is not much of a place at all. Your photos reminded me that I stayed in the noisiest hotel room in all of Italy!

    1. Whereabouts was it, Andrew- near Borgo Stretto? I would have liked to walk along the river to the fortress tower but there was quite a cold wind and Mick had had enough by then 🙂 🙂

    1. It was busy when you were there, Paula? I think the police car may have scared a few away 🙂 🙂
      Thanks a lot for visiting. I’m having a quick 5 minute catch up from my Algarve patio. A walking day tomorrow. Sending hugs!

  22. They’ve opened it again! When we went to Pisa the leaning tower was shut. Such a shame. Well, I’ll just have to go back. Glorious Tuscany trip Jo, I’m so envious. Brought back many good memories.

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