Saturday, October 5, 2013

A day in Pisa before flying home

On our last day in Italy, we made our way by train to Pisa. How different from Florence. It was easy to walk up the pedestrian stradone, again window shopping but without hordes of people. Of course the shops didn't quite have the style and attraction of Florence.

Meandering up a side street, we found a restaurant whose customers all seemed local. With a bit of a wait we secured a table. It was refreshing to not see the same menu as we had in so many of the restaurants in Florence. An Italian friend of ours, who is a superb chef, would call the food of Florence, "old fashioned Italian." Our appetizer was a little pumpkin soufflé. different and delicious. Not wanting pasta or any more veal, we chose the duck breast and ordered some roast potatoes to go along with it. The Sangiovese wine added a beautiful finishing touch to the meal.

Like all the other tourists in town, the purpose of our visit was to see the leaning Tower of Pisa. I hadn't been here for several years. The first view of the Tower sparkling in the sun was quite magnificent. It is just one of the buildings rising from the emerald green lawns of the Campo dei Miracoli. All the buildings have a Moorish influence and all of them lean because their foundations were set in sandy soil. The Tower was started in 1173 and began to tip sideways before the third story was completed. It has been corrected by 38 centimetres quite recently.

We saw lots of people having their pictures taken with the tower in the background but adopting strange poses. It seems the thing to do is have your photo taken so that it appears that you are pushing the tower over or holding it up. We visited the opulent Duomo with it's marble walls and vivid frescoes. At the far end of the park there was quite a commotion going on. The riot police, in full gear, were holding back a group of shouting students. The population of Pisa is around 100,000 with 60,000 being university students.

We took a different route back to the station walking along the Arno admiring the splendid buildings dating from the 11th to 13th centuries, when Pisa dominated the western Mediterranean. The city went into decline when the river silted up creating a salt marsh that separated it from the sea.

Finally, we were back at the train station for a five minute trip to the airport for our plane home. Even the small airport had places to have pasta and wonderful panini, which we were glad of, especially when our plane was an hour and a half late in arriving.

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