Day trip to Pisa

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Feb 17, 2008

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We went on a day trip to Pisa which was only about an hour west by train from Florence. This was my first time being able to see the country side since I had been in Italy. It was so beautiful.
   When we got there we had to walk quite a distance from the train station to get to where the famous leaning tower was. The walk was quite nice. I was surprised at how different the architecture was here from Florence. Once we got there, I was amazed to see that there was not only the beautiful tower, but also a huge cathedral, and a huge baptistery and a huge ancient cemetery. All of this was on a beautiful green lawn. The weather today was beyond beautiful. It was almost balmy. We were asked if we wanted to climb the tower and only 5 of us wanted to. It cost 15 Eros. I was one of the ones to climb the tower. The way I saw it, I may never have an opportunity to come back here, and how cool would it be to be able to tell people that I climbed the leaning tower of Pisa. Besides the money was going to help keep the Pisa standing, I think that is a good cause. They only let 30 people in the tower at a time, on a half an hour rotation. So we bought our tickets and had to wait about an hour for our turn. This was not a problem at all. It was so beautiful out and the buildings were captivating just to look at. While waiting, we went to see the baptistery. Professor Diercks told us before we went in that this building was built to be like a musical instrument. When we went in we found out why. It was a round building with a dome at the top. It was rather simple on the inside. A few minutes after we got in the guy who I thought was the guard went to the middle of the room and started singing one note and then another a third lower, and then another a third lower than that, creating a chord. The acoustics in this building were phenomenal. The sound range for a really long time. The notes he sang blended perfectly so the chord was audible. It was quite fascinating and I'm glad I took a video of it.   
    We got in line to go up the Pisa, 15 minutes before our turn. I was the first in line so I got to be the first to go up first. I think there were something like 400 stairs to get to the top. Climbing this tower was like we were in a fun house. You could definitely feel the lean of the building. Not to mention the stairs which were made out of marble had grooves in them from where people have been trodding over the centuries. The grooves followed the lean of the building, it was so crazy. It was such a fun climb. Once we got to the very top is was very clear that were leaning, it felt like if we were to sit down we could slide right off the tower. It was a beautiful view from the top. I really enjoyed being up there. (Diego and I were standing looking over the rail on the lowest part of the tower and we were imagining what it would be like if the tower did fall over while we were standing there. We imagined it being like when the Titanic sunk, and then we imagined how we would be immortalized if that happened, with us being on a statue of the tower as it was crashing down with faces of terror. It was actually quite a funny thought.)  We stayed for as long as we could and then we began our descent when they told us too. Going down was pretty scary because of the tilt it almost felt like we had much less control of where our feet were going, a couple times I thought I was going to fall.
    Once we were on solid ground we got lunch at one of the many vendors that were around the green. We sat on the green for lunch even though there were signs every where saying to keep off the grass. But since everyone was doing it we did too. Then when we were just about finished with lunch this cop guy started blowing his whistle at everyone to get off the grass. Of course we enjoyed some gelato while we were there too. It was so nice out we didn't need to wear our jackets, it was fantastic. I had to keep reminding myself that it was the beginning of February and some how it was incredibly beautiful.
    We then went to check out the inside of the cathedral. It was incredibly beautiful. There were huge frescoes on all of the walls. There was a unique pattern of marble in the cathedral. It was white and blue marble striped. It was quite nice. Of course there was a beautifully painted dome, as well as an apse that had a large gold mosaic of Christ, it was incredible.
     Then we went to check out the old cemetery behind the cathedral. This cemetery had the stones in the floor that were supposed to be the likeness of the person they were commemorating. There were some that were very old and there were some that weren't very old. The walls around the cemetery had ancient frescoes on them. There was a group of people on scaffolding on one of the walls restoring the frescoes. After we had seen enough of the cemetery a few of us went to check out one of the museums that was near there. This particular one featured the caricatures of the frescoes that we just saw in the cemetery. That was pretty neat to see, because it was clear that they were very very old. 
   After we were done there it was about time to head back to Florence.
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