February 24, 2013

Pisa and Lucca

It still looks like it's leaning, even from this angle. 
Pisa is about an hour and a half west of Florence. And after taking the bus to Siena, we thought it best to travel by train. It was fast and inexpensive. We had heard that there wasn't much to do and see in Pisa except for the Leaning Tower, so we planned to see Lucca, another Tuscan town about 30 minutes north of Pisa.
We thought this warning sign was so funny! 
This is another long post about our trip to Italy earlier this month. Most of the bold text links to wikipedia in case you're interested in learning more about the sights and history of Pisa and Lucca.

More after the jump...

One good thing about taking the train in Pisa is that it forces you to walk through the town. Pisa isn't as pretty as other Italian towns, but that's just my opinion. There is quite a bit to see there, but we didn't really have a lot of time. However, I knew that I wanted to see this mural by the graffiti artist Keith Haring
 This is the the last public work that he painted. 
The mural Tuttomondo (all the world) was painted in 1989. 
Photo by Jon.
 In person, the mural is difficult to view because of the close proximity of a café and an apartment building. It isn't really visible from the street, and it's on the back wall of a convent. It's pretty cool, but I wish there were a better way to view the work. 
Photo by Jon
Moving on... The Arno River:
It's hard to believe this water also flows through Florence. I thought the water sparkled more in Florence. I was definitely under it's spell.  We walked a bit more through the oldest part of the town and came upon the Palazzo dei Cavalieri.  
This beautiful sgraffito building was once an important political site, and it dates from the Renaissance. However, this building is now part of the University of Pisa system. Did you know that the University of Pisa is the 19th oldest university in the world? And the famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli studied law here in the 1980s. That fact is for you, mom! 

Not too far from the university, we turned a corner and saw this: (!)
It really is a sight to see. It's so strange to see a tower that leans so much, but you get to the site of the Piazza del Duomo and you realize that EVERYTHING leans.  

The duomo leans so much that the tower looks straight in this picture:

 The baptistry leans:
I read that the foundation of the entire site is soft, which could explain the tilting buildings. Due to the price to go up the tower (15 euros!) we decided to skip it. Jon went inside the church, while I went to buy souvenirs.

Besides the Leaning Tower, the posing tourists were hilarious. We saw ladies laying down on the street and men karate kid posing on columns to get the right shot.
Jon's flickr set of photos from Pisa includes some of these hilarious poses and shots from the interior of the church. Check it out!

After a quick bite to eat and a short wait, we boarded a train to Lucca. 

Lucca is a fortified city from 180 BC. The main town is within a high set of medieval walls that circle the city. Most medieval towns in Europe have walls, but Lucca's walls are topped with a promenade - a place to walk and cycle. This photo was taken just outside the city walls. 

View from the top. 
We rented some bikes and cycled around the city. It took about an hour, but that's because we stopped many times to take pictures and admire the view. It's a great way to get some exercise and see the city.
In the town, there were many narrow streets, but we did manage to find Piazza San Michele, the site of the old Roman forum. 
This day, Feb 8, it was just a quiet square with a few bars and gelaterias.

Do you see the lovely garden with the statues?

Lucca was a nice stop and a lovely town. I would love to go back and spend more time there. There were towers with roof top gardens and there are great music festivals there in the summer. Lucca is the birthplace of Puccini. I can't believe I missed that commemorative statue. Sadly, my phone ran out of space for photos in Lucca. 

Jon's Flickr photos of Lucca are great - Plus, he saw and documented a lot more than I did. 

No comments: