Italy/London – Part 2 – Pisa | February 2012

We had arrived into Lerici on Saturday. On Sunday, we had to return to Pisa to pick up another colleague of ours who was coming from the Netherlands. Due to his early evening arrival, we took the opportunity to drive to Pisa in the afternoon to check out the sights. After one wrong turn getting onto the A12 highway which resulted in a 20-min drive in the wrong direction, we made it into Pisa. We found out that non-resident cars are not allowed in certain parts of Pisa, and were a bit concerned about finding parking. But due to it being the off season, we didn’t have to worry — we were able to park only a block away from the Piazza dei Miracoli, and off we went.

Entering the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), obviously the first thing that draws the eye is the Leaning Tower. It really does lean, quite dramatically. But the rest of the piazza is quite striking too, especially the cathedral. All situated within a large green space. Souvenir stalls lined the southern wall of the piazza, but were quite unobtrusive. I’d seen pictures of the piazza just teeming with people in the summer, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it quite empty.

Piazza dei Miracoli with the Cathedral on the left and the famous Tower in the back
Nope, no holding-up-the-Tower pose
The lean becomes most evident when seen against the straight wall of the cathedral
Visitors at the top

We wanted to go up the Tower, but read that kids under 8 are not allowed (for whatever reason), so that obviously was off the list. Instead we checked out the cathedral.

Cattedrale di Pisa
The cathedral had a very nice golden light filtering in
The ceiling design was quite intricate
Cathedral interior
Golden words

We were getting hungry by then, and so popped into a nearby cafe for lunch. After lunch we planned to check out the nearby botanical garden and the River Arno. It turned out that the botanical garden was closed (limited hours in the winter), so we just headed towards the river. On the way we stopped in at a pasticceria for some hot chocolate. If you have not had proper European hot chocolate, you’re really missing out. So thick that you can place a spoon on top and it doesn’t sink in. But despite the richness, not sugary sweet; I’m not a fan of too much sweet stuff, but I could drink this all day.

Open for dinner
Showing off his candy
Mmm, hot chocolate

We kept wandering the streets until we came upon the River Arno, where the setting sun set everything aglow.

Pisa street
Technology destroys you
#occupy
Golden hour along the River Arno
Riverfront walk

Given that it was getting close to our colleague’s arrival, we returned to the car, picked him up at the airport and returned to Lerici.

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