no matter where you go, there you are

Sunday, June 13, 2010

leaning tower

The train arrived in Florence on time and the city was bustling as I made my way down the main street. I had met an American family on the train who were returning to Florence after visiting Siena for the day and the parents said they would point me in the right direction since they'd been in the city for a few days now. I thought "what the hell? this is nice" and followed them. They pointed out a couple of the major areas and by the time we reached the river I realized they had taken me completely out of the way. I was about 2 bridges south of where I wanted to be. Normally I wouldn't have minded, but Florence is an old city with almost all of the roads and sidewalks being cobblestone. I was traveling with small carry-on rolling suitcase. Let's just say it wasn't easy, and one of wheels barely survived. And by the time I arrived at my hostel I was extremely relieved. Though the river was gorgeous at night and I took a moment to appreciate it, the extra walk was not what I had in mind after a long day already stricken with plenty of lost-ness.

The next morning was a very early one. Anne and Lauren were arriving from Vienna after an all-night train ride so I had to meet them at the station. Florence in the early morning hours was completely different than the previous night. Empty and silent, there was almost no one out and about. I met up with them on schedule and after walking to our hotel and dropping our bags off we headed back out and off to Pisa. Only an hour from Florence by train, we took the time to catch up and ended up reminiscing about how we learned to multiply. Anne learned the most bizarre way I have ever seen. Which is weird since we went to the same school...

We didn't spend much time in Pisa but it seemed like a very relaxed and laid back city. It's small, therefore it felt a lot like Tours, France; a residential city rather than a center of everything one. The Tower, Battisterto and Duomo is about a 5-10 minute walk from the train station and in a very nice area. It's nice and spread out and the rest of the city isn't towering around it. There's room to breathe and admire. The weather was gorgeous, with the bright blue sky only enhancing the beautiful, carved, white stone of the buildings. Even cooler was the old ancient city wall which sits around the far side of the complex.

Initially, the tower doesn't really look like it's leaning but as we walked around it the angle changed and you definitely see the shifted foundation. Because it kept changing I kept thinking my mind was playing tricks on me or something and it was all just an illusion. Nope, it is definitely leaning. Another thing I thought was interesting was that it wasn't very tall. Compared to the size of Pisa's other buildings, it was a little bit taller so it may provide a nice city view, but compared to the Eiffel Tower or even the tower on Notre Dame or the Cupola of St. Peter's, the tower wasn't tall at all. Maybe only 4 stories or so...

Inside the Duomo, there wasn't much of a difference compared to the other Italian churches. A beautifully carved ceiling, a wonderfully painted dome, the altar, side chapels and large paintings adorning the walls. Here, I liked the carved ceiling the best. There was variety in the carvings and as a whole they created a pattern which was visually stunning.

On our way back to the station, we crossed the river once again and the reflection was so picture perfect I had to stop and stare in awe. I can't remember seeing anything like it before. The water was still, nothing disturbing it floating up or down. No trash, boats, people, animals. Nothing. Its mirror properties were outstanding and the reflection was one of my favorite images to capture.

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