Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The drive to Pisa from the western coast of Italy wasn't much. Welcome to Tuscany! It was hot, dry, and all I could think of was the Arizonan desert. Though honestly, it's hard to be homesick when you're in Italy.
Rhonda, our GPS, couldn't quite figure out how to get us into the city of Pisa. She kept leading us to the other side of the tracks-- and indeed there was a train there, both coming and going. It was desert, grunge, and graffiti-- aside from the train and litter there was not much there. I'm not sure where she thought she was taking us, but it certainly wasn't the heart of Pisa.
This is what the travel brochures don't show you:
The heart of Pisa looked like more like this:
We parked, paid the meter, and walked about a mile in the terrible heat to see two buildings: the leaning tower (Duomo) and the Baptistry of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni). Did you know that kids under eight can't go in the leaning tower at all, without exceptions? We were a little bummed by that, so rather than leave Kitty Bill out-- honestly, not an option-- we opted to admire the outside together.
If there's one thing I've learned from traveling around Europe, you can't see it all. You just can't unless you have unlimited time, unlimited funds, and no kids. Even then you probably couldn't pull it off. There is just so much to see. And some things are actually online-- like the Baptistry of St. John. You can visit it from the comfort of your computer chair. (Be sure to click on the video to hear the acoustics. The folks in this video are quite amusing, too.)
For all the trouble it took to get into the city of Pisa, our travel book said there really wasn't much more to see. The main sights are just all there crammed together, so it's really a one-stop destination: Get off the bus, take a picture or twelve, and get back on the bus. The little walkway around this center is also crammed with trinket sellers, so you really get a good touristy experience.
Here are a couple videos I found online featuring the Leaning Tower:
Wonder why the tower leans and how they've "fixed" it?
Hear the bells at the top of the Leaning Tower.
Next stop? Florence...