About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pisa and the Mediterranean

After a good night of sleep, we got ready for the day and went downstairs and around the corner for breakfast. Our hotel gave us coupons for free breakfast at the bar.

Pisa reached it peak in power in AD 1200. It rivaled Venice and Genoa as sea trading powers for three centuries. Because of the Arno River, the city enjoys easy access to the Mediterranean.

We had a 10am reservation for the leaning tower. We arrived early to take pictures and check our bags. You cannot carry any bags, purses, backpacks, etc up the tower.

The Pisa Tower is famous throughout the world. It is well worth seeing in person. The leaning tower parallels Pisa's history. It was started when Pisa was at the peak of power. As Pisa's power declined, so did its tower reclined. It is said that more money is spent keeping the tower upright and leaning than if it leaning were completely fixed. After a 10 year closure due to unsafe conditions, the tower has undergone a multimillion dollar renovation and stabilization effort. Some say the tower is now good for another 200 years.

At 10am it was time to climb the tower. It is a 294 tilted step climb to the top. Only 30 visitors are allowed at a time and children under 8 are not allowed. We found that the climb was most of the fun. The slanted climb was easy, then hard, then easy, etc. You can see the evidence of the lean in the worn marble steps.

The tower is 200 ft tall and 55 ft wide. It weighs 14,000 tons and currently leans at a 5 degree angle - 15 feet. It started to lean almost immediately after construction began. There are 8 stories, a base and a belfry at the top. The inner structure is a hollow cylinder of limestone bricks.

Stairway to the top.

View from the top.

At the top.

Family picture

Bells of the tower.

This afternoon we decided to take the short drive out to the Mediterranean coast. First off, we stopped at McDonalds. Its funny, we eat at McDonalds much more than we ever did in Corvallis. Its a taste of home and its not Italian food. Sometimes we just get tired of meats, cheeses and pastas.

Brandon's funny photography

McDonalds in Pisa

We found the coast and walked down the waterfront for a few blocks, stopping for gelato before turning around. The afternoon was beautiful and warm. A great day to be at the coast.


Gelato at the coast.

After some time at the coast, we headed back to Pisa. Brandon wanted to hang out on the lawn near the leaning tower, so I hung out while Katrina took picture. Brandon chased pigeons. This led to a bad experience for him. He was herding and chasing pigeons when he accidently stepped on one. It really upset him. He was very worried that he had hurt the pigeon.

Chasing pigeons

What a handsome boy.

We took an afternoon break in the room before heading out in the evening to see the Arno River in town and find some dinner. There was an artists market setup on the street outside our hotel. Katrina found some very nice necklaces for a great price. We found the river, then looked for a place for dinner. We ended up back at the leaning tower for some night shots.

Arno River at night

Leaning Tower at night

We found a restaurant near the tower that was serving dinner early. Brandon and I had some great pasta al bolognese. Katrina had a Mediterranean salad. We also had a couple glasses of wine, of course.

We saw this on a sidestreet. You can get hot pizza or a pasta dish from a vending machine!

Back to the room for another early night. We all read for awhile then hit the sack early.

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