Monday, September 10, 2012

Pisa Pisa

Since we've been back, I've been asked about a dozen times, which city I liked the best. It's hard to choose between Florence, Siena and Venice. What I can tell them is the one place I would likely never go back to again...Pisa.

Pisa was the place that was on the bubble of the places for us to see, but after our successful trek to Florence, we were ready to push the envelope and head for the outer limits, which for us was Pisa.

It's probably not Pisa's fault that I parked about as far from the city centre as I could possibly park, but it didn't help that no one seemed to have heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If we asked for directions to the Tower, we would receive blank stares. If we asked for directions to the Piazza Miracoli, where the Leaning Tower was located, we would get shrugs of shoulders. It was the oddest, most frustrating thing.

We wove in and out of streets and alleys, following occasional signs to the Centro and waves of hands from those who we could finally find who have at least heard of one of the Wonders of the World.

The city didn't seem to have the beauty of Florence. Added to that was a feeling of tension that seemed to be in the air.

When we finally came to the River Arno, we were expecting to hit pay dirt much as we had at Florence. 

Instead we ran into a British couple with a guide book desperately trying to find the Leaning Tower of Pisa who hadn't had much more luck than us. Up to this point, however, we seemed to be going in the right direction. Who knew that we would end up spending over another hour trying to make our way through a maze of streets.

I expected that once we crossed the river, we would find friendlier surroundings just as we had in Florence. But the air of tension seemed to be even stronger.

The graffiti, though fascinating, didn't help to dispel my unease. It's not that I ever felt unsafe, it just reminded me of the feeling I would feel in Iran before we left.

Still we trudged on.

And on...stopping to take numerous pictures.

Finally when we began to despair that we would never find the Leaning Tower or the Piazza Miracoli, we finally upon the Piazza.

It was so strange to be at this place I've seen in pictures and books. On one hand it was rather incredible. On the other hand, it's beauty did not compare to the Duomo in Florence and its stature did not compare to the Eiffel Tower.

Still, it was exciting. And as Liz and the girls took pictures from various angles, I went to purchase tickets to climb up the Tower. By this time it was already 2pm and first available time was 4:20pm. With two hours to spare and stomaches that were calling for food, it was time to get some lunch.

After a mediocre lunch, we were still tired from our long trek so just hung out on the grassy area that surrounded the tower.

It was a lot of fun watching tourists, such as ourselves, take the obligatory pictures of themselves holding up the tower.

Finally, it was our time to queue up for the climb up the tower.

Despite a good head talking to myself, after about ten slanty steps, I couldn't bring myself to go up any further.

While Liz and the girls made the rest of the climb up, I sat outside just enjoying the moment. By the time they came back down it was almost 5pm so we decided to head back to the car. I won't describe the next hour and a half in great detail, except to say, there came a time where we began to seriously doubt that we would ever find the car. Luckily I remembered that early on as we made our way to the Centro, we passed the Aeroporto. And luckily, I had purposefully snapped pictures of street signs near where we parked the car otherwise we might still be wandering the streets of Pisa looking for our car.

Added to our misery, we got lost on the way back to our Villa. We finally trudged our way back to the villa after 9pm far more despondent than we left in the morning. After a quiet dinner, we headed to bed tired, a little grumpy...but we were in a Italy. Things had to look up in the morning.

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