Tuesday, June 29, 2010

La Bella Italia + Pisa

Ah, the lovely Tuscan town of Pisa!  Of course,  I knew that I would be seeing the Leaning Tower here, but there were many things I experienced that I was not expecting at all!  In a very good way!  In fact, Pisa turned out to be one of my favorite stops during the entire trip.  I'm not sure what it was about it exactly, but I found it to be very unique, sweet, & even somehow untouched...  Anyway, onto my notes about my time in Pisa!  Are you ready for this?!

A beautiful panoramic view from Wikipedia
- The streets were lined with vendors selling everything from tacky David statue aprons to beautiful Italian leather purses.  I can hardly believe this myself, but I was quite the little bargainer!  I bought a beautiful large cashmere scarf for &euros;5!  I bought a print of an oil painting of the Tower, Cathedral, & Baptistery for &euros;4!  Maybe it was beginner's luck, but I would offer them a price & when they said it was too low, I'd just turn around & walk away.  It only took about 5 seconds before I heard their Italian voices beckoning me back, saying my offer was just fine :)

- You can easily see the entire touristy section of Pisa, where the Tower is, from one location.  And other than that, it's like any other small Italian town...many churches, quaint squares for markets, & beautiful flowers gracing every window & doorway.

- Andrea Bocelli went to school in Pisa!  Interesting fact!  Ah, his music is perfect for when I am cooking!  Makes me feel like an Italian chef!

A few of my favorite historical tidbits that I learned during our guided tour

 - The Leaning Tower has actually been "corrected" by more than two feet!  They used weights to help it stand more straight, dug out the earth around the building in certain places to ease the movement, etc.  So now, the Lean that we see is much less than it once was, & it's still very obvious!  For safety reasons, they can only let about 30 people into the Tower at once!  But look, I did my part as a responsible tourist to help keep the Tower from falling :)

I am SO Strong
- Galileo was born here, baptized in the beautiful old Baptistery, went to Church in the Cathedral Duomo, & was even inspired to find the Law of the Swinging Pendulum by watching a chandelier in the Cathedral!  How amazing to stand where such an important man stood, to see what he saw!

This is the chandelier that inspired it all.  Seventeen year old Galileo sat here, looked at this piece, & discovered the Law of the Swinging Pendulum.  Wow!

 - I really liked seeing the Baptistery.  Its construction began in 1152 & was completed in 1363.  Can you imagine having generations of your family help to build this one beautiful building?  Originally, the domed ceiling was opened to allow the rain to fill the baptistery inside.  The symbolism here was beautiful.  Three steps up to the baptismal area to symbolize the Holy Trinity.  A straight walk from the entrance to the door of the Cathedral.  And perpendicular to these two buildings were built the hospital & the cemetery.  All four buildings representing four important stages of life: birth, life, mending, & the final rest.  And not only that, but the buildings create the shape of a cross.  Beautiful!  Thank you, Giovanni, our tour guide!

Beautiful, isn't it?  And yes, I took all of these photos myself!  Well, not the one of myself.  Thank you, Hayley, for that!
- And finally, although I could go on but I know you would get bored, is the interior of the Cathedral, the Duomo.  I already shared the photo I took of the famous chandelier, but here is a photo that shows more.  The construction of the Duomo began in 1064 & The design has a lot of Byzantine influence as could be seen in the many mosaics & decorations.  The columns along the facade are all completely different & they were brought back to Pisa as war trophies.  The gold ceiling, which replaced the wood ceiling after a fire in 1565, was created using gold from Mexico.  Mexico!  That was very surprising to me!  And beautiful!

The interior of the Duomo.  I was so happy that I bought the scarf, because I had bare shoulders that needed covering in order for me to enter!  A very nice tradition, I think.
And so, in a nutshell {complete with photos!}, that was what I thought of Pisa.  I would love to go back & explore the rest of the town, especially after reading up on my history of the place.  As with any new place that I visit, I always appreciate it more when I know the history.  Just to think about those who made the beautiful buildings, what they symbolize, & the important people who lived there makes me so appreciative that I can see these wonderful things with my own eyes!  What a fantastic blessing!

Up next in my Italy travel reviews: Lucca!  I may write about this tomorrow, but chances are good that it will be Thursday.  This is a lot of writing for me!

Enjoy your Tuesday, my lovely readers!  ♥
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