|This is our last day, and so far it has been great. We took a chartered bus to Pisa; the leaning tower (which is the bell tower for the complex including the baptistry, the cathedral, and the cemetery) is spectacular—much more so than in photos. All of these buildings are faced with white marble, and they sit in the middle of beautiful green lawns rather than in the middle of a crowded city like most of the other cathedrals we have visited.
The bus dropped us off at a huge parking lot where there were shuttles waiting to take us the rest of the way. We rode on a tiny train on rubber wheels marked “Tschu-Tschu Germany.” It did not choo-choo, but was open to the breeze and was fun. Sam and I found that riding in the front as we did going over is preferable to riding in the back as we did on the way back. In the back it felt like the driver was playing crack the whip, but once we learned to hold on tight, it was okay.
Our guide was another Italian whose English was very good. She was the best combination of informative and entertaining we had seen so far with lots of jokes about the enmity between Pisa, Florence, Lucca, and some of the other cities. Seems the city-state competition did not really go away when Italy was united.
After the tour at the tower, we went to a local winery for lunch and a tour. The lunch was exceptional: unending antipasto consisting of really excellent bread, crostini of both tomatoes and paté, olives, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, bread grilled with olive oil and garlic, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini, and I forget what else. There was also an assortment of the wines produced in the winery (and the olive oil is produced there as well), then big bowls of salad. Dessert was biscotti to dip in a desert wine that seemed more like a cross between wine and brandy.
After lunch, we saw some of the vinyards and olive groves and the vats where they age the wine. It is quite a small operation compared to some of the U. S. wineries we have visited. One of the most interesting parts was seeing where and how they press the olives.
We're back at the hotel now with just time enough to pack up before a small concert, cocktails, and dinner. We'll have to roll out about 3:30 am in order to make our 6:30 am flight from Florence, so this is probably the last posting until we get home.