Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Leaning Tower from a Distance

Tower and Cathedral

Tower from other side of Cathedral

Baptistry and Cathedral Front

Cathedral Door

Detail of Cathedral Door

Sheep Shop in Pisa

Side Street in Pisa

Manarola Waterfront

Manarola Main Street

American Eskimo in Manarola


We started the day with brilliant sunshine at 7:00am and by 8:00am the clouds had gathered with resonating thunderclaps and brilliant lightning, accompanied by torrential rain. The planned walk to the Leaning Tower looked as though it was in jeopardy. By the time we had breakfast the rain had eased and we decided to set off for the 30 minute walk. Nan had reconnoitered the area yesterday after her arrival and guided us in a sure footed manner right round the piazza, almost to where we had started before deciding that, just maybe, she had missed the road. We retraced our steps in the rain and found the pedestrian street we had missed and walked up the narrow, winding road to the tower, missing the busy commercialized area before the tower. By the time we reached it, the rain had all but gone off and we were able to enjoy the sight, even though the sky was ominously black. The eforts to slow the tilt of the famous tower seem to have been successful and visitors are once again able to climb the tower, an opportunity of which we did not avail ourselves. Having surveyed the area, and observed the crowds on the approved approach, we decided to go back the way we had come, as it was comparatively quiet.

We found a small market and purchased bread and fruit for our lunch, but could not find anywhere selling cold meat or cheese. We ended up close to the railway station and our hotel and decided to have a sandwich in a small cafe and keep the picnic fixings for another day. We returned to the hotel, picked up our luggage and checked out. We crossed the road and caught the train to La Spezia and transferred to the local train to Manarola. The exit was through a tunnel to the main street where we had a short, but steep walk (downhill) to our hotel by the harbour. We got unpacked and set off to explore the main street. The street is lined with fishing boats, behind which a variety of stores, restaurants and businesses reside. We were partly up the hill when rain started and we returned to an ice cream parlour close to the hotel and partook of its contents in the hope the rain would dissipate. Instead, it grew heavier and we eventually decided to make a dive for the hotel entrance across the road. Even in that short distance we were soaked.

We read and dozed for a while before getting ready for dinner at a restaurant up the road. We enjoyed a dinner of seafood and discovered how small the world is. First we saw a couple Christine and I had seen in Genoa who had a similarly confusing experience at the cafeteria; the girl had left with a celebratory thumbs up to her companion when she had obviously succeeded against the odds of ordering what they wanted. Shortly after a couple sat at the next table and asked if we would take their picture. It turned out they were from Montreal and he was able to tell us that the Oilers looked as though they would have a good team for this season.

We had a walk past the harbour and watched two fisherman casting their lines with lit rods off the rocks, and people, locals and tourists, enjoying the coolness of the evening, with young children running and shrieking in delight at their own antics, while adults discussed who knows what in loud voices with music playing in the background. As we prepare for bed the same noises penetrate the room through open windows. Life lived on the street is quite a contrast to the privacy practiced in our Alberta neighbourhood.

Tomorrow, weather permitting we plan to walk the Via Dell' Amore to Riomaggiore and explore another of the Cinque Terre villages.

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