|en route to Pisa from Firenze|
we noticed that the highway is a bit too narrow. and there were some areas with major traffic jams. nevertheless, it was a quite a short drive. two hours, if i remember correctly.
the parking area was a bit far away from the city center. we parked there because there are restrictions on allowed vehicles inside the city center. on the way there, we passed by a bustling area with buskers and flea markets and this:
|Keith Haring's Tutto Mondo|
this is Keith Haring's last public art work before he died. i don't usually like contemporary art because they usually look like some kids' crappy doodles/experiments to me. but i like it when it's juxtaposed with the classic, like this modern mural is painted on the side of an ancient church. it makes for a lovely contrast.
it's quite convenient that there is a small café with free WIFI right in front of this structure and we took a bit of refreshments before heading back into the heat to see the Pisa Tower.
|teeny tiny chapel right next to the Arno River|
we passed by this teeny tiny chapel right at the edge of the Arno River on the way there. it was so cute and small and charming.
|crossing the Arno River on the way to the Pisa Tower|
i just had to have my pic taken here. it was so hot i was starting to burn like toast. look at my dark tan.
|The Leaning Tower of Pisa|
a few minutes later, here we are at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. we didn't know that we can climb all the way to the top. so we took the opportunity to buy tickets. it was quite a long queue.
and this is how it looked inside:
|some metal structures that keep the wall from caving in or further leaning (?)|
you can see that they've built some supporting structure inside to strengthen the walls. it was quite tiring to climb. it was so narrow and you can feel the stronger pull of gravity towards the side where it is leaning. it felt so weird.
|you are really forced to lean on the wall because it is sloping towards the side|
these are the last few winding steps to the top of the tower:
|all the steps are curved in the middle because of the pressure of all the millions of feet that have climbed them for centuries|
on the way down, i just had to take off my slippers because i was afraid of slipping. nevertheless, the view from the top is magnificent.
|life on top!|
a bit of interesting excerpts from wikipedia:
On January 7, 1990, after over two decades of stabilisation studies, and spurred by the abrupt collapse of the Civic Tower of Pavia in 1989, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to relieve some weight, and cables were cinched around the third level and anchored several hundred meters away. Apartments and houses in the path of the tower were vacated for safety. The final solution to prevent the collapse of the tower was to slightly straighten the tower to a safer angle, by removing 38 cubic metres (1,342 cubic feet) of soil from underneath the raised end. The tower was straightened by 45 centimetres (17.7 inches), returning to its 1838 position. After a decade of corrective reconstruction and stabilization efforts, the tower was reopened to the public on December 15, 2001, and was declared stable for at least another 300 years.
In May 2008, after the removal of another 70 metric tons (77 short tons) of ground, engineers announced that the Tower had been stabilized such that it had stopped moving for the first time in its history. They stated it would be stable for at least 200 years.
we're quite lucky to have arrived there at a time that it is already stable enough to be climbed by the public.
|view of the cathedral from the tower|
right after visiting The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral, we headed straight off to Lucca, where we will be staying the night. we stayed right at the heart of the fortified city where Giacomo Puccini was born.
|Hotel Athena's lobby|
we stayed in this charming hotel called Hotel Athena with a very nice Italian Lolo as the owner. He has a gorgeous son that looks like a model! he was so nice to pick us up a few meters from the hotel because we had trouble locating it.
everything looks antique inside the room. it kinda looked haunted to me. it's a good thing i was too tired to worry about ghosts at bedtime because i was exhausted from all the driving and walking in the heat.
|this mirror is scary-looking old|
we rested for a bit and then walked around the city towards dusk where we found an open market selling antiques. but the shops were already closing down when we got there.
|antiques for sale|
there was also a music festival featuring Stevie Wonder the following evening. too bad, we had to leave early the following day for San Giminiano and Siena.
|artists performing at the music festival in Lucca|
walking around the fortified city, we saw a lot of small shops with some old Italian Lolos gathering at a corner having some passionate discussion. :)
|Italian Lolos having some heated debate|
and of course, we searched for a nice restaurant for dinner. i love that there are olive trees everywhere. makes me feel that i really am in Tuscany. :)
|charming set-up but we didn't eat here. we just wanted to have apero here but they only serve dinner. tant pis!|
|lovely flowered bicycle|
of course, the restaurant with a lovely terrasse where we originally wanted to eat was fully-booked, so we had to settle for this one:
|my dinner date|
which was not that bad at all. i liked my fried oysters and rosé.
|me and my oysters|
after dinner, if you keep strolling around, you will find all these interesting sites:
this is Signor Puccini sitting comfortably right in front of his very own birth place, which is now a restaurant under his appellation.
|old and beautiful... sitting next to this at the breakfast table|
|the hotel's breakfast room|
|i could never get tired of authentic Italian capuccino for breakfast|
|i asked the Lolo owner of the hotel what this insignia on the hotel keychain means. he said it's the family insignia of the original owner of the hotel|
upon check out, the charming Lolo owner of the hotel gave us directions to a nice route on the way to San Giminiano, so i could have a photo-op with these lovelies:
|lovely sunflowers basking under the Tuscan sun|
that's all for this week! next time: San Giminiano and Siena