Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A long weekend in Pisa

A couple of weeks ago we took a little trip to Pisa, in the Tuscany region of Italy. This was a gift for my sixtieth birthday from my Mum and my sister. We hadn't been on a proper holiday for over six years. Moving to Spain on a shoestring does that to your budget! Tell people you live in Spain and they think you're on permanent vacation but we live a pretty ordinary life, albeit one with more than our fair share of sunshine. It was good to go somewhere we had never visited before. The only downside being the Ryanair flight to get there! They may be cheap but they're bloody uncomfortable. But then, as I said, they're cheap. You get what you pay for.

We arrived on a Friday evening, took a taxi to the hotel and then went straight out to find something to eat. It was warm and humid and we sat outside at a little pizzeria and stuffed ourselves with Italian food and wine. Good start! The hotel, in the centre of the old city, was small but nicely appointed and our little room came complete with air conditioning, which was a godsend. Opening the windows was pointless - there were people wandering around outside nearly all night and they weren't your quiet types!

The next morning, after a continental breakfast, like good little tourists, we went to see the Leaning Tower.
It does, indeed, have an alarming list to port. We could have climbed it but Bryn's fear of heights and my short, fat, sixty year old legs precluded this! We sat and drank coffee instead and listened to all the different languages floating by us. So many tourists! So many coffee shops! So many toot stalls! So many restaurants - one of which we chose to grace with our presence later that evening. Again, we stuffed ourselves with Italian food and wine!

On Sunday, we had planned to catch the train to Florence, only an hour away. This did not happen. By that time, I was beginning to feel a trifle lazy and all that lovely Italian food and wine had befogged my brain to the point where I couldn't read the timetable for love nor money. We went for a nice walk along the river instead. I took this shot from one of the many bridges:
I still don't know the name of this river. I keep meaning to look it up but I get sidetracked. Nevertheless, we walked along its banks for quite some way. Had to do something to counter the effects of all that Italian food and wine!

There is a little square in the middle of Pisa, which one has to stroll through to go just about anywhere. It's called the Piazza del Cavalieri and is very pretty:

That last shot is of a military gentleman, wearing a skirt, with his foot atop the head of a dolphin. We spent a very enjoyable half hour letting our imaginations run riot, inventing tall tales to account for this unusual juxtaposition. We concluded that said military gentleman, having had his trousers eaten by a dolphin, took immediate and bloody revenge and then posed for the photographers before making an appointment with his tailor. We didn't enquire as to the true history of this statue - we much preferred our own version!

Pisa has a University. On our many long strolls around the town, we encountered various departments scattered here and there. This one made me laugh out loud:

It would seem that students attending the Department of Philosophy have written most of their insights on the wall outside! Quite enlightening, some of them, if a little rude!

Sunday evening was spent enjoyably stuffing our faces, yet again. And then it was Monday. We had to check out of the hotel in the morning but our flight did not leave until the evening. Reception kindly looked after our baggage while we embarked on our final traipse around Pisa. It is a very small city. By this time, we had seen pretty much all of it so we went to keep Mr. Garibaldi company for a while:

His statue stands in a little piazza down by the river. We raised a coffee to him. My husband is part Italian on his mother's side and he has always been told that his ancestors fled Italy with Garibaldi, after his failed revolution. I don't think he had anything to do with the biscuits but I could be wrong!

All in all, a pleasant short break.  I don't think we could have spent a whole week there but a long weekend was just about right.

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