5.30am rise, for a 6.30am transfer with Enzo to Camuchia – Cortona train station. Enzo arrives early in the black Mercedes van, we arrive at the train early so coffee and croissants are procured at the train station canteen. It’s cool, dark , and there are others waiting. A few trains whizz through the station not stopping, they are at pace. Our 7:02am train arrives on time, we get seats and then snooze until Florence.
Florence is warmer, but not hot, not yet anyway. A short walk from the Florence SMN train station to the Hotel Globus where we check in drop our bags, drop the bags as we can’t check in yet, its only 9:30am, then walk back the train station, buy tickets to Pisa.
Lets just say that Pisa is about 4 hours of my life I’ll never get back. I can’t say I enjoyed it, maybe I did for about 5 minutes of looking at the tower and the cathedral from the outside as we didn’t have enough time to get tickets to go inside the cathedral and take a 12:30 slot available, its free but you have to book.
The history is roughly; Tower of Pisa is more accurately referred to simply as the bell tower, or campanile. Building commenced in about 1175 and continued for about 200 years due to the onset of a series of wars. Till today, the name of the architect is a mystery. Good thing because it appears he buggered it up a bit, didn’t do his soil testing and undercooked the footing a bit because the 185 foot tower is a bit over 5 metres off the vertical, its also a bit bent due to attempts to straighten it.
The Pisa tower is one of the four buildings that make up the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy, called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli, which means Field of Miracles. To be fair the building are beautiful white marble and inside the cathedral looks stunning with a gold or bronze ceiling.
Take a step back, we got off the train, The Navigator turned left, we should have turned right, then back tracked through the tunnel to the correct side of the station, then walking with Google mapped we made our way with a gazzilion other tourists for 25 minutes to the tower and cathedral. Our return train to Florence is at 1pm, so after a cursory look, the obligatory photos pretending to hold up the tower we walk back through the ugly grubby streets, over the Arno river towards the train station. A quick food stop is abandoned when we think we’ll miss the train back to Florence. Hot tip – don’t miss the train out of Pisa, except for the tower and cathedral (book a free ticket at the office over behind the tower first thing when you arrive – it looks worth seeing), everything looks dirty, unattractive and largely unappealing.
Back in Florence we have a lunch near the train station, rest for 30 minutes, then hit the cobblestones and do the cooks tour of Florence for Paul, the Duomo, Santa Croche (inside ), Palazzo vechio sculptures, walk through the bottom of the Uffizi, over the Ponte Vechio, and back via the Piazza where the carousel is. Florence is a beautiful city, easily walkable, and so many things to see and do and so many food options to choose from. You need at least 3-5 days to get a good go at it really. The Navigator has picked up a migraine due to lack of food and too much walking so retires to the room to lighten the drug stash in her bag. Paul, Liz and I head to a nice restaurant around the corner from the hotel for dinner. The drugs obviously work because I can’t wake the Navigator when I knock on the door, so I head to reception and chat with the nice receptionist who is a music fan, we talk about blues and roots music then she gives me a spare key to the room.
A long day, ciao from Italy for the last time this trip – Pauolo