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 :
Staying close to home, Eunice takes us on a fact finding mission in the West Pennines :
Anabel meets a very friendly chipmunk this week. Maybe a touch too friendly!
Lady Lee extends her Philippines visit to the island of Sabtang :
Still in Mexico, Jackie’s moved up the coast a little :
Meet the Lucerne Lion this week, with Woolly :
Couldn’t miss this one out! Viveka is always so colourful and I love the donkey photo!
Vertigo sufferers beware! Becky’s ‘on top of the world’ :
Just one more of those places I’d like to see for myself, Jaspa :
So lovely to have Lisa around again, though her life is anything but smooth sailing!
And isn’t it wonderful to have chirpy friends? Thanks so much, Paula!
Many thanks to all who have shared, walked or just read. Please take care till the next time!