|Monday, May 18th
I woke to find that my body was not happy with me. I could hardly walk. The whole muscle infrastructure of my left hip (yep the new one) ached and I could barely walk without pain.
I sat on a bag of frozen peas on the trip to Pisa and wasn’t much improved.
We followed the directions into Pisa for our campground. After getting lost a few times and having an unplanned tour of the New Town we finally found where our campsite was situated. BUT it wasn’t anymore. We came upon the largest tour bus parking lot I have ever seen. There must have been over 100 buses parked there.
We plugged in the directions for another park and found it quite easily. It was quite private and nestled in a grove of trees within easy walking distance of the walled city.
Needless to say I wasn’t up to much walking but Bill ventured into town with his bike and found a pharmacy with drugs and athletic tape. I gulped down the pills and spent the rest of the day writing postcards and journaling.
Tuesday, May 19th.
OK, so I am not feeling great but pain killers worked a bit. Off to see Pisa.
Education has fueled the local economy since the early 1400’s thanks in part to that Medici clan (A very wealthy, banking family who also dabbled in many other enterprises and who also produced rulers and popes over the years).
Galileo Galilei, the city’s most famous son, later taught at the university here.
This was a WOW day. From the Leaning Tower to the Baptistry to the Duomo (Cathedral) to the Camposanto. All four of these sites were spread out on a gargantuan carpet of grass, collectively called Campo dei Miracoli.
Granted I think we were both drawn to this site because of the Tower but we were not prepared for the magnificence of the other structures surrounding it.
We finally found our way to the Museum where we could buy a multi-admission pass and book our visit to the Tower.
The climb up the 294 stairs was an experience. Not only were we climbing but doing so on a slant. By the time Bill got to the top he had quite an episode of vertigo and couldn’t wait to get down. I on the other hand had struggled to get to the top climbing up using only my right leg to climb then dragging the left one up. I am not sure if it was worth the struggle but I did take a few moments to enjoy the view and experience the thrill of having done it.
A couple of things about the tower.
- It was closed for 10 years to secure the “lean” and re-opened in 2001. Over 70 tonnes of earth were removed on the opposite side and they were able to rectify the lean by 43.8 cm. Doesn’t seem like much to me but apparently the experts believe that this will guarantee the tower’s future for the next 3 centuries.
- In 1160 Pisa boasted some 10,000 towers but no bell tower. A local left in her will, money to build a bell tower.
- Seven bells each sounding a different musical note were added to the completed tower in 1370 but silenced in the 1950’s for fear of a catastrophic collapse.
The Cathedral was built in 1064, the largest in Europe at the time. An elliptical dome was added in 1380, the first of its kind in Europe and thanks to the Medici’s the wooden ceiling was decorated with 24-carot gold. The vast interior which is supported by 68 hefty granite columns is exquisite. The breathtaking proportions were designed to demonstrate Pisa’s domination of the Mediterranean. A message, from a town inland, on the Arno River??
I must have missed that class too.
The unusually round Baptistry was breathtaking. It’s beautiful hexagonal marble pulpit carved in 1260’ish is the undisputed highlight. Not to mention the Islamic tile floor and the stunning view down from the balcony. We were fortunate to hear a custodian demonstrate the double dome’s remarkable acoustics and echo effects.
The Camposanto is a hauntingly beautiful resting place for many prominent Pizans. It is arranged around a garden in a cloistered quadrangle. The damaged done in the 2nd WW was devastating. They had pictures to prove it. The reconstruction is nothing short of a miracle.
It was a very peaceful building.
We then wandered the streets down to the Arno, enjoying and absorbing the sites and ate lunch at a lovely outdoor café beside the river. For 10E each, we had a delicious buffet. I ate pasta I have never seen before.
After our meal, I took a hankering to have another horse and buggy tour. When the driver’s reply to “How much” was 50 E we both laughed and carried on.