Monday, 23 April 2007

Pisa and Lucca

Okay this is a bit of a mega-post as the last few days have been fairly busy. I think in future I won't make the posts this big as it turns out Blogger is fairly bad at handling posts with lots of pictures.

On Saturday we took a bus up to one of the Medici Villas not far from the center of Florence. Of course we arrived 20 minutes after last entry so we walked around the area and found ourselves a nice spot for a picnic. It was very nice to be out of Florence since, as beautiful a city Florence is, it does get somewhat claustrophobic living here.

Then on Sunday we went out to Pisa and Lucca with our school. This was quite an expensive excursion but it worked out well as it got us into Tuscany proper and I finally got to see the famous leaning tower! I may even have learned some Italian.

While many amusing photos were taken with the tower, they have been deemed un-blog-worthy. We didn't climb the tower as it was 50 Euro each and required a booking.. and more than the 20 minutes of free time we were granted with our tour. While the tower may no longer be in imminent danger of tipping over, it still makes a surreal sight when you first see it.

In Campo dei Miracoli at Pisa we found the Baptistry, Duomo and, of course, The Tower.

I did manage to sneak off one or two covert photos inside the Duomo, which was prohibited and enforced by some random German tourist.

Next up was Lucca.

Lucca is a pretty little town built entirely inside a large wall (Le Mura) to protect it from the flooding Arno (or from expansionist families depending upon whom you ask). Our first sights were of Chiesa Di San Michele, above.

In Lucca there are a number of towers which we dutifully climbed and for which Linda was, in turn, dutifully annoyed at me. First we climbed the Torre delle Ore which is a civic tower equipped with a clock and bells in order to scare the tourists when they go off in close proximity unexpectedly. Next was the Torre Guinigi which was constructed as an emblem of a powerful Luccian family has a hanging garden of Holm trees at its top.

We also visited the Piazza Anfiteatro. This 'square' is the remains of a roman theater, restored in the 18th century to its current form of an oval ring of terraced buildings forming the square in which you can buy gelato and many fine post cards.

In a surprise move we then ate pizza and gelato.

After that thoroughly exhausting trip we took a relaxing ride back to Florence in our little bus with our guide and the bus driver debating how long it would be until we would be back in Florence, and whether that constituted the fringes of Florence or the centre, and how the traffic might affect that...

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