Saturday, 23 September 2017

Today I planned to attempt visits to both Pisa and Florence on the same day. (What did I get myself into?) I set the alarm this morning for 6:00 a.m., but ended up waking at 5:00 a.m. ready to start the day. Guess I’m feeling better.

The walk to the central train station was easy. Just 30 minutes away and had enough time to find which platform to be on when the train arrived. I had a small recurrence of my “bug” before I left the flat and hoped for the best.

In Florence (or Firenze as it is known by Italians) I changed trains for my journey to Pisa. The train was delayed on the way to Pisa (something about a person on the track) and once we got going again our train slowed to a crawl for almost an hour. By the time the train was able to resume its normal speed, we were 45 minutes late arriving in Pisa. Considering the number of trains I’ve taken over the last 15 months, and this was the most significant issue, I’m very thankful and hope my good luck continues.

On my phone, It didn’t look like the Leaning Tower was too far from the Pisa train station, but it was a good 40 minute walk nonetheless. The weather was very mild and enjoyed walking through the town (more like a small city) to the tower. Could it be that someone in the early years knew of the tower’s popularity and put the train station away from the tower so visitors would walk through Pisa and buy from local merchants along the way? There were a number of high-end stores, but I just kept walking. Walked over the Arno River on my way to the Tower of Pisa.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the tower, actually Piazza del Duomo is the proper name for the location. The Cattedrale di Pisa is next to the tower and the two buildings work well together. My first thought was, “Well there it is. And it does lean – that’s for sure.”

First Glimpse of the Tower of Pisa

Was more interested in the number of people (seemingly, most everyone) taking selfies with the tower. Even me. Many happy tourists enjoying the nice weather and visiting this iconic tower. I can’t remember when I first learned of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, maybe it was in the 4th grade. So much a part of our lexicon and cultural reference. And I was here today seeing it in person.

I took some other pictures of the tower and surrounding buildings before I left to explore a little more of Pisa before boarding the train to Florence. Wasn’t sure how crowded on the streets it would be on a Saturday, but found it was an easy walk to and from the tower.

Because of my earlier train delay, I missed my train to Florence. Rather than take the chance that my ticket would be void, I purchased another ticket for 8.40 Euros, which I thought was good insurance. (Later I found out that my original ticket was good for another 4 hours.) Had I read my ticket. Live and learn…

Got to Florence about 1:30 or so and walked first to the museum that has Michelangelo’s David but when I saw the line, and found that you can purchase a ticket ahead of time, I moved on. The next place I wanted to visit was a museum, rather more like an exhibition of da Vinci’s inventions and art. Someone, probably more like a group of people, built his best known inventions to scale and had them on display. Remarkable!

From there I casually walked back toward the station when I came upon the Florence Cathedral. (You can’t miss it!) Its proper name is “Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore” and building started in 1296. What a huge building. I heard another tourist comment that he couldn’t get the whole building in one picture. But I made do by taking pictures of one side of the building to capture the building’s splendor.

Along the way I saw something I had read about. (This has nothing to do with museums or towers – just my geek side making an appearance.) A number of cities are investing in new ways to collect garbage from street receptacles. A hole is dug, a self-contained trash bin is lowered into the ground and every few days a special truck picks up the container and dumps it into a truck. Saves time to individually remove trash from sidewalk collection stations.

About this time I was starting to get tired. I checked how many steps I walked today and found that I had almost 15,000 steps recorded and still needed to walk back to the station. The battery in my phone was getting close to 10% even though I turned off most of the functions. And I didn’t bring my backup battery.

Since I had originally planned to until 8:00 pm, I needed to re-do my ticket. It only cost an extra 4.10 Euro and I got a reserved seat. By the time I reached Bologna, my phone died, but still needed to give an address to the taxi driver, which was in my phone. Was amusing trying to communicate with the driver, who could speak some English, but not enough to understand my instructions of where I was living. I knew how to walk from the flat to the train station, but didn’t know the driving directions from the station to the flat. He had me talk on the phone to his friend Claudio who could speak good English. Then I had an idea. I noticed he had a Samsung and asked if he had his charger with him. He did! I plugged in my phone and was able to give him the actual address. We had a good laugh about it. Of course he got an extra tip for his efforts.

When I checked how many steps I walked today, was a little surprised that it was 21,509, or 9.78 miles. Pretty good for a guy in his 60’s. Though, after I got settled, I took a good nap.

After my nap, I started to make reservations for tomorrow’s visit to Florence. Guess I should have verified that I could get tickets for the two museums tomorrow before I booked my train tickets. Looks like I’ll go back to Florence for a third day on Wednesday. Monday, and possibly Tuesday, I’ll visit Venice. My original concept was to find a central location (Bologna) that would give me easy access to Pisa, Florence, and Venice. Perhaps a little more expensive to keep taking the train, but avoiding the inconvenience of moving every few days is well worth it.

I’ll be up early again tomorrow. I have an 8:25 a.m. train to catch. Hopefully I’ll not wake up again at 5:00 a.m.



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