A Quicky, Sicky Day Trip To Pisa
Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
52Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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So… Murray and I woke up this morning, both feeling a bit off (Murray again – me still). It is the WORST thing to be traveling when you're sick – and stomach stuff is the pits… We grabbed some toast at our hotel breakfast buffet, and ultimately, decided that we could power on for our planned day trip to Pisa – in retrospect, probably not a great idea!
We walked to the train station and bought our tickets to Pisa, finally figuring out how to use the automatic ticket machines (in Rome, we had to wait in line for 45-minutes for counter service in order to buy our tickets here to Florence, as those darn self-service machines were completely unhelpful!). Once we were aboard the train and moving, we saw some beautiful Tuscan countryside – but then Murray got ill on the train, and I got ill once we made it to the station in Pisa
Still, ok – we’re now in Pisa, right?, and so we should make the best of it. After getting a better map from the local tourist office, we walked from the Pisa train station to the Fiume Arno River (the same river that flows through Florence). During our walk, we saw this unique, teeny-tiny church named Santa Maria della Spina, which hung right on the edge of the river! It was pretty cool. We discovered that this church was built in the 14th century to house a thorn from Christ’s crown. Kind of interesting.
Crossing the river at Ponte di Mezzo, we sluggishly walked onward to Piazza dei Miracoli, where Pisa’s massive cathedral, baptistry, and famous Leaning Tower all are. The piazza itself is one of the loveliest we’ve seen – sprawling green lawns, teeming with students and cafes (and, of course, tourists posed t’ai chi-like so the photo they’re posing for suggests they’re either pushing the tower over or holding it up).
The cathedral was begun in 1064, and the baptistry in 1153. Both are built in Pisan-Romanesque style, with tiers of columns that diminish skywards. More interestingly, of course, is that darn Leaning Tower. The campanile (bell tower) for the cathedral, the Leaning Tower began to lean after its architect had completed only three tiers of the building. Most believe that the tower began leaning because of "shifting soil" – and then it continued to incline about 1mm every year since it was built! In 1998, however, the City of Pisa (realizing, I think, that if the tower ever fell over, their tourism industry would be severely curtailed!) wrapped cables around the third story of the tower and attached it to A-frames while workers removed soil from the non-leaning side and created a counter subsidence to the lean
Despite feeling off, it was great for me to see the Leaning Tower again – and great for Murray, too. It is funny to think that this town of 89,000 people gets millions of visitors a year because of such an architectural screw-up! Anyway, we took a few happy snaps of us in front of the Leaning Tower; freshly restored, it is now so bright and clean-looking, and with the bright blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds in the background, the pictures we took in front of the tower almost look fake (but really, we did go there, despite our bad stomachs; no t’ai chi-like tourist photos for us, though…). Afterward, we stopped at small sidewalk café for hot tea for both of us (you know Murray is sick when he foregoes beer for tea!), with a view of the tower right in front of us. I also ate some dry biscuits, which seemed to do alright. (Too bad – no "pizza in Pisa" for us, which I have pictures of doing from when I was here with my family several years ago!)
After sitting with our tea for a spell, unfortunately we both decided that we weren’t up for doing anything else in Pisa – we just were not feeling well
After getting back to Florence and walking from the train station back to the hotel, we felt a little better (fresh air?). We got back to our room around 4:00pm and just relaxed for several hours, reading, snoozing, going online. I finally started feeling hungry later afternoon, but not Murray! Around 7:30pm, we felt well enough to take a long walk around our neighborhood. We found another great little trattoria – and in the end, Murray’s food interest had picked up. I had minestrone soup, and Murray and I split the porcini mushroom risotto. Murray was even feeling good enough for a beer at that point, as well as a veal with mushrooms entrée (I seriously hope he’s not pushing it too much…!). After dinner, we were back to the hotel by 9:30pm, and in bed not long after that. Here’s to better stomachs tomorrow…!