We saw the Tuscan mountains in the distance and the rocky coastline winding its way towards La Spezia. We had finally arrived in Italy and our road trip was about to begin! 🙂
First stop, PISA!
Should we buy any postcards? Perhaps not…after all, everyone will only go nuts trying to hang them straight…
Every time I clicked the shutter button and then looked at the screen, the picture looked weird, as if I had taken a crap photo, but in fact no, it was the lean of the tower! Everyone had said it was small or unimpressive, but I actually couldn’t believe how far it tilted without falling over. I had wanted to see this architectural flop ever since I was a child…I say flop because the tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Its free to walk around and take pictures of the outside of the buildings, but in true Indiana Jones spirit we booked tickets to climb, and I do mean CLIMB, the tower which has 300 marble steps! Walking up the first dozen felt not to dissimilar to walking home after having pushed through half a bottle of Vodka without going for the all you can eat sushi buffet before hand. With every step I flew against the wall and concentration was a must. By the time my breathing got heavy, I was starting to get used to the slope. Then when the slope no longer bothered me, my legs muscles started to burn. I could only remember underestimating stairs in such a way one other time, when my brother and I decided not to bother to wait for the lift at Russel Square tube station…Never again… But actually, yes again…in Pisa…
An Asian couple and ourselves double helixed up the tower. We each took turns to overtake each other as one party after the other panted and took in the views whilst recovering in the alcoves between floors. We got slower and slower and only self-esteem stopped me from crawling through the little arched door at the top. I AM ROCKY! The view over Tuscany was stunning. Warm yellow and brown houses with terracotta tiled roofs…the sun glowed behind the clouds and we could see the blue mountains in the background. There was a stupid fence which sort of got in the way, but probably necessary as too many climbers could of otherwise flopped over the side when their legs gave way due to lack of oxygen…
It was a grey day, but the grass was so green and the grounds incredibly well kept. There weren’t that many people so it meant we had lots of opportunities to take some uninterrupted Kung Foo I’m holding up the tower *Money Shot* pictures and really take in the marvel of the structures!
We ate bruscetta and had a large glass of Chianti in a small restaurant close to the Piazza before walking along the river and back to the train station. It was then that Stella spotted an ice rink (much to my horror!) 😥 I rattled through my excuse list as she paid for two pairs of boots: “I’ve never done it”, “I can’t have my first time abroad”, “I don’t have my medical insurance card with me”, “My Mum will kill me”, “I could die”, “I love my fingers too much”, “I AM DRUNK!”…
I crumbled under pier pressure and gave into the assurance that after one lap I could stop if I didn’t like it (if I was still alive)…I was still gesticulating something about my mum as I fastened the last clip on my boot. The ice rink was the moment we went native. Surrounded by Italian families and couples, I took to the ice like a giraffe, sliding so slowly I was almost started moon walking backwards. We linked arm in arm and went round and round the rink. At first I grabbed the edges but soon I was mowing down kids left right and center and pulling Stella over…We stopped only because we had to catch our train. Hot, sweaty with massive smiles, all fingers in tact and without a single floor drop, the whole experience was magical! It was super exhilarating getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I had always seen as impossibly difficult and quite scary! I guess it is true, real friends will always push you towards the great possibilities of your future 🙂
So after a massive adrenaline rush and bags of festive cheer we pushed forward to the next phase of our adventure: FLORENCE!
Light Blue Faux Leather Jacket – PRIMARK
Vintage Sailor Crop Top
Ripped Boyfriend Jeans – ZARA
White Chuck Taylors – CONVERSE
And…Don’t forget you can now stay up to date with our adventures, travels and outfits on my social media 🙂
Eeek! FUN FACTS/ NERD ALERT ❤
- Piazza dei Miracoli is considered a sacred area by its owner, the Catholic Church, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).
- The five naved Cathedral’s grey marble and stone set with discs of coloured marble, was built by a master named Rainaldo. Its massive bronze main doors were made in the workshops of Giambologna, replacing the original doors destroyed in a fire in 1595. The interior was really impressive and I just loved the gilded ceiling the wooden pulpit. Galileo is even believed to have formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum by watching the swinging of the incense lamp (not the present one) hanging from the ceiling of the nave!
- The Baptistery, dedicated to John the Baptist was built in Romanesque style by an architect known as Diotisalvi and is the largest one in Italy!
- The Leaning Tower is located behind the Cathedral. The last of the three major buildings on the piazza to be built, construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372. Five years after construction began, when the building had reached the third floor level, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on its south side. The building was left for a century, which allowed the subsoil to stabilise itself and prevented the building from collapsing. In 1272, to adjust the lean of the building, when construction resumed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other.