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Pisa

By Hannah

overcast 9 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Pisa: The picture everyone takes and why not?

Pisa: The picture everyone takes and why not?

It's kind of surreal seeing a monument like the Leaning Tower of Pisa right in front of you. You've seen it a hundred times, in photos and such, and that's what you think of when someone mentions it to you. But it's a whole other deal when it's smack dab in the middle of the square you're walking through. My first impression was, "It's a lot more slanted than I thought." It really leaned. It was more than just a bad job with the level. And it leaned like a person would lean. You could see it curving, rather than just sticking out at an angle. The other buildings in the Field of Miracles were also impressive. We visited the Baptistery and the Camposanto. Obviously, we would've liked to go up the Tower, but at €18.00 a person, it was decided that we would admire it from below.

Pisa: Baptistry looking down

Pisa: Baptistry looking down

The Baptistery was a large, octagonal building that served the one purpose for which it was named. People would come here to be baptised, and after they had been doused in one of the four basins, they could make their way over to the church not thirty metres away. As my dad pointed out, it was a bit difficult to comprehend that such an ornate and sizeable building had only one function. There was a second floor, which was a balcony that went all the way around, so that people could get a good view of the baptisms. After the Baptistery, we made our way over to the Camposanto, or cemetery. The walls were partially covered by some fire-damaged frescos, and coffins, busts, and statues lined the inside. It was a little eerie, but interesting, too. Some of the graves were marked for people that had died less than five years ago. You could see how it would have been even more impressive back when it was first constructed.

Pisa: Field of Miracles

Pisa: Field of Miracles

We walked around Pisa a little bit more, just to get the feel of the town. It seemed like a more open and orderly Lucca. Then we were off to Cavriglia. Our current home is a very nice one indeed. Abby and I still share a room, but hey, we're used to that now. It's a little rustic, but in a good way, as well as spacious and warm. We had fresh pasta for dinner (when in Rome Siena), and settled into our address of the week. And while we might not be basking in the Tuscan sun, we're still happy to be where we are.

Posted by KZFamily 14:03 Archived in Italy Tagged tower italy leaning pisa tuscany cavriglia Comments (1)

Lucca

By Hannah

overcast 7 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Lucca: Biking the walls

Lucca: Biking the walls

My dad and I visited the old, walled city of Lucca today. Abby wasn't feeling too well, so she stayed behind. The place we're staying at provides bikes to use free of charge, so we rode around on top of the wall a couple times. It was an interesting perspective, and not one that you got the chance to see very often. As we traveled, we saw the morning routines of Lucca's residents. A couple of friends out for a jog. A group of elderly men playing a raucous game of dominoes. Numerous owners being walked by their dogs. After our ride, we wandered the streets for a bit. They meandered and criss-crossed all over the place, and we had to retrace our steps carefully so as not to get lost. We found a large square, which was actually a circle due to the fact that an amphitheatre had once stood there. Houses and shops were built around it, and remained after it was gone. You can imagine how busy and full of tourists it would've been in the summer. As we walked, we discovered a number of bakeries and delis, and couldn't help popping into one to buy some goodies (darn our sweet tooths).

Lucca Torre Guinigi

Lucca Torre Guinigi

We came home for lunch, and to check on how Abby was doing (I think she read for the entire day). We had the cookies we'd bought, which tasted like shortbread/sugar cookie crosses and were either dipped in chocolate or decorated with sprinkles. Tasty, but not quite the same as French pastries, we agreed. I suppose we've become a bit snobbish. After lunch, Dad and I abandoned Abby once more in order to explore Lucca further. We decided to go up one of Lucca's many towers (it seemed that, back in the day, a family proved their importance by building a tower). The one we chose was Lucca's most famous, named Torre Guinigi. The only reason it was distinct was because it had trees planted on top of it. We hiked the 125 feet up to the top, and surveyed the misty, sprawling city that was Lucca. It was a pretty good view, too, and we stayed up there for awhile. We did some church spotting (apparently there are 100 churches in Lucca), and tried to figure out which towers were taller than ours. Eventually, we headed back down, careful to avoid the abundance of pigeon droppings. Another hour or two was spent wandering and trying to read the map (mostly successfully), looking at churches and strolling through squares. We're sorry Abby had to miss out on Lucca, but hopefully the pictures and this summary will give her (and of course you, dear readers) an idea of this quaint Italian town

.Lucca: Torre Guinigi

Lucca: Torre Guinigi

Posted by KZFamily 14:01 Archived in Italy Tagged tower italy lucca cookies guinigi Comments (2)

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