Tuesday, October 5, 2004
Today was our day to go to Pisa. We got a bit lost inside Pisa itself finding the tower (which is really silly considering how large it is, but we didn’t realize that it’s now on the outskirts of the town). We parked at the free lot and took the free shuttle to the Campanile (the correct name for the Leaning Tower) and the Duomo. I really thought they exaggerated the lean in all of the postcards and stuff, but they really don’t. That sucker seriously leans! It would be a beautiful tower worthy of fame even without the lean, but that just sort of clinches it. It makes you wonder about the people who built it. It started leaning almost from the get-go–did they think people wouldn’t notice? They must have been the laughingstock of the middle ages, what a colossal, dramatic failure! We also went into the Duomo which is very pretty in its own right. The rest of Pisa, besides the Duomo, the Campanile and this above-ground cemetery called the Campesanto got obliterated in a firefight in WWII, and now around the tower there is the tackiest collection of cheesy booths you could ever imagine. Tons of African drums and paraphernalia, knockoff designer purses and of course tacky souvenirs. I don’t really know why the Town of Pisa allows this–it cheapens the entire town and makes visitors not want to linger once they’ve seen the tower. We were convinced there had to be another, more upscale side to Pisa so we went walking off the beaten track only to get caught up in a rush of students between classes at the local university. No restaurants or shops anywhere! So we headed back to the tourist area and had lunch at a decent enough restaurant. We took the classic “holding up the tower” picture, and left Pisa and went to Rosignano Marittimo, a town in the mountains close to our place. First off we stopped at the local playground, which was full of kids because it was right behind a school that had just gotten out for the day. Then we headed up the hill and found a gelateria with the best gelato we’d had yet. Of course, Martedi was the day when all of the stores were chiuso (I had hoped to find a Panificio and buy some outstanding bread and pastries but my plans were thwarted yet again) but I did manage to find a tiny alimentari that was open so I could buy a few essentials for breakfast. Once we got home we went into the freezing pool because the girls really wanted to–brrrrr. And dinner/ bath/ bed.