Today we go to Pisa. As Tanya says it is quite remarkable that so many people feel compelled to visit what is in fact an engineering oopsy. This time no elevators required and we get easy parking close to the piazza.
Having said that, the complex is really impressive, they clearly put lots of effort into conservation as the whole complex looks so white and clean . We manage to get there just before the place officially opens so in fact there are not that many people. The complex consists of a massive Baptistry , the Tower and the cathedral placed close together in a lovely set of lawns.
This does turn out to be the largest Baptistry in the world and is very impressive, with room for a large crowd witnessing the Baptism. The hexagonal setting has been decorated with bronze relief on the sides.
Not only is there room on the ground floor, there is also a gallery where supposedly the women stood. The building itself is quite tall with a large cupola but does not have ornamental frescos , just lead light windows on the points of the hexagon.
The cathedral, however is again magnificent. Smaller than Siena but with amazing mosaics filling behind the main alter and in the side chapels. We do not get blazé about visiting these feats of human engineering and design.
The number of people arriving to visit is increasing and the vast majority are taking photos while propping up the Tower.
We take a very sedate photo for memory. We feel we have had a really good visit. It’s time to get a fix of fresh air in the local Parco Naturale Migliorrino. It is quite interesting as it is a large park with a wide paved alley in the middle leading to the sea. The sign says that entry is forbidden without a guide. We feel we have to disobey this order just like all the other Italians are doing.
We have a lovely walk with a massive amount of bird song, hardly any people and lots of fresh air. We do eventually come to another sign stating most definately no entry with or without a guide with internationally recognizable signs, so we feel we have to obey, but still the Italians continue. They must know something we do not know.
After our burst of fresh air it is time for a visit to the sea. Pisa used to be a very important port connected to the sea by the Arno river but once it’s army was decimated by the Florentine attack it gradually fell into a much less significant place. Mind you apparently Leonardo de Vinci and Galileo went to University here and the University still remains a big hub of education.
It is an easy drive to the Mare, we marvel at the resilience of the Italian bodies as they lie on big white rocks, no sand only a thin towel separating them from the hard, fist sized rocks. There is hardly anybody around, mostly Italians enjoying a Saturday afternoon.
We walk past a few restaurants deciding which will be our pick for lunch and one stands out with what we see on people’s plates.
André selects the lightly coated sea food platter, Tanya has a beautiful pappardelle pasta with amberjack sauce and I go for the hot seafood and veggie platter.
There is additional entertainment as we watch the young man in the open kitchen/ bar preparing pizza dough balls, then masterfully flipping them in the air and literally presto 40 sec later the pizza goes in the wood burning oven which he occasionally stokes with another log. This required a video session to capture.
Tummies full, time to find the best gelato in town. We see a lady on an oxygen cylinder walking out with a large gelato and we figure this must be the place. Sure enough the gelato is perfect, Tanya spoils the concept of it being a long track for the lady by saying she probably lives just upstairs, I don’t think so!
It has been a long and fun day with history, culture, fresh air, exercise and great food. Can’t beat that combo. Time to go home for a relaxing glass of Vernaccia.