Pisa

Waking up in Tuscany was glorious this morning. Stunning views across hills and valleys covered in olive groves with a few stone houses dotted here and there. In the distance the church and the village which we rode through last night are a lot further away than we thought.

 

 

Our plans today are to visit the famous Tower of Pisa. Travelling into Pisa started with a bumpy ride down the hill over a loose gravel track through olive groves before hitting a one lane concrete track which bumped its way up and down over rises to the edge of the village. Yes a little hair raising judging by how hard Michele was gripping me with her arms and legs. Then journey down through the village was a bit more of a nail biter for Michele as most of it was downhill through tiny twisty alleys with blind corners. We met a few locals on the corners (of course) and had to find a spot to let them pass or visa versa. I think the general rule is the vehicle coming down hill has priority although we met an old man in a three wheel Piaggio and both of us were coming downhill. It was easier for us to let him go and he puttered on past. Along the road into Pisa we followed the aquaduct which stretches from the mountains into the city following it for about 5 km’s.

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Arriving in Pisa we saw the signs which stated that the area was residents only so we parked up and looked for a cafe to have breakfast. As we were siting eating breakfast on the piazza I looked up and noticed behind Michele a strange tower leaning off at an odd angle. Yes we’d stumbled upon the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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After breakfast we took a look at the strange tower which was a bit much for Michele’s equilibrium because she started to experience vertigo.

 

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It came as a surprise as to how many buildings accompanied the Tower of Pisa. The Pisa Cathedral which is part of the complex is just phenomenal inside. Although there was renovation work underway we decided to have a look around.

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The building itself made from beautiful white marble with stunning mosaics over the entry and intricately carved entry door. Once inside the sheer size of the interior is overwhelming. Granite pillars of different colours support black and white marble arches. The massive ceiling is boxed in gilded wood and the pulpit is a carved marble design with stories from the Bible.

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In the transept is a chapel to Saint Ranieri who supposedly has bits and pieces of his body all around Pisa. Inside a glass case a silver mask covers a body which could be his. Creepy but we weren’t game to look too closely.

 

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There’s some stunningly beautiful statues around the cathedral and massive renaissance era paintings of biblical scenes. If it wasn’t for the workmen hammering away we could’ve sat for a very long time to enjoy this place.

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At the tourist information they have the Vespa hat was used in Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. What a beautiful machine.

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As we were a bit museumed out we skipped the other buildings and headed into the city for a look around. It’s quite intriguing that Pisa doesn’t have cafes and restaurants along the river. It’s kind of bland with thick walls to keep the river in, not very attractive at all.

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The main piazza is pretty busy with market stalls at the centre and lots of shops stretching down either side of the street. As it was lunch time we made our way back to the restaurant for the lunch special, Marguerita pizza and a drink for €6:50. It was nice eating pizza watching the tourist train getting swamped by africans selling watches, scarfs, selfie sticks and Leaning Tower of Pizza umbrellas.
When it came time to pay the nice little local bar from breakfast became a tourist bar. Our coffee went from €1:50 to €3 and a further €2 surcharge was added on. What a ripoff!!! We’d heard about the pickpockets in Pisa but
this restaurant was picking your pocket with your own hands.

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As there was nothing else we wanted to see we headed back to our little cottage in the hills where all the olive growers were busily picking and trimming their trees. Just on dark the owners arrived home exhausted from a busy day in the olive grove.

We highly recommend staying in this little place, a true local experience…if you are driving a car you may need to walk to final part but the experience will be worth it you can see it here …..if you are not an airbnb member already you can join using this  and get a $28 Aus credit.

Tomorrow we head to Florence for the day.

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