Monday 12/2/2019 PISA
It may be taking me quite awhile to get these posts down on paper, but that should be a sign as to how much this trip meant to me. The memories are dimming a bit, but the photos will always be with me. And then I just have to see one word, one picture or something simple and they all come rushing back. On Monday we were still in Florence, but quite a bit of the museums are closed for the day so we took the opportunity to take the train to Pisa. The weather was supposed to be cloudy with a good chance of rain, but we didn’t travel this far to be stuck inside due to weather.
On the train ride to Pisa it did in fact rain, but by the time we got there it had stopped. And as we walked through town to get to the Tower and Duomo the day cleared and became quite beautiful. It took us about twenty minutes to get to the tower and it was through what seemed like just any other town. We made our way down the pedestrian only streets, passing shops of all kinds and kept moving since this was on Christine’s “bucket list”. Its kind of cool for me to help her hit some of those bucket items, especially considering just how much traveling she has done.
We were still trying to figure out how to get there – since we had a vague map from a local hotel – when out of nowhere we looked up and in the distance could see the tower itself. My first thought sounds rather obvious – “wow the tower really is leaning”. But you don’t quite realize just how much until you see it in person. And as we drew closer you can really see just how much of an angle there is. Even standing right there, it is still conceivable to think “okay so its a bit of an angle”. But then you climb the 254 stairs to the top and really start to feel the angle. Not only do the stairs narrow to a little more than shoulder width at times, but they angle to the extreme and its hard not to lean against the walls.
The views were once again incredible and despite the earlier rain, the clouds had cleared and we could see for miles. There is a cathedral – Duomo – there as well and it is just as beautiful as the other cathedrals I have see on this trip. The cathedral was a massive room with stone columns, balconies and an amazing altar. In addition there were several smaller altars along the sides dedicated to specific saints. When we finished touring through the Tower and the various other sites there we headed back to the train. Along the way we stopped for an incredible pizza lunch and then strolled through many of the shops before getting back to the train and then back to Florence.
There was one part of this day, and the day before that will not only stay with me but touches me. And it reminds me why I have learned to love traveling. You truly never know where the day will take you. When I was in Florence and had climbed the top of the Duomo there I had been taking pictures, videos, and selfies when this young girl – maybe 12 or 13 – comes up and asks if I speak Spanish. I say no, but she motions to take a picture and I nod. To my surprise there about a dozen other girls and a couple of ladies with them. I take several pictures with her phone of the group and as much of Florence as I can get. When we are finished she motions for my phone and takes about a dozen photos of me as well. On the way back down we get caught in a traffic jam and while waiting the group of girls starts singing. It was a fun time and made me smile thinking of how much they must be having on their trip.
While Christine and I had been riding the train to Pisa I told her the story and she thought it was very nice. While we were walking around Pisa – and it was rather crowded – I passed a couple of girls and to my surprise realized one was the girl from Florence. I stopped, smiled and waved but I could tell she didn’t quite remember me. Then I made the motion of taking a picture and held up my phone. Suddenly her eyes went wide and with almost no warning she vaulted the few feet into my arms and gave me a big hug. After several minutes she realized that Christine was watching us. I managed to introduce them and only then did I learn the young girl’s name – Kristen. I guess you have to travel six thousand miles sometimes before a Christine and a Kristen can meet each other over a photo opportunity. Of which she insisted on taking our pictures at the base of the tower.
Tuesday 12/3/2019 – Florence
On Tuesday morning we got up early and made our way to the Galleria di Academia where the statue of David is kept. This was our last day in Florence and I was a little sad to say goodbye, but thrilled at what Rome had in store for us. We had an appointment to see David at 815 and since we were not sure how far it was we were up and out of the hotel by 730. It turned out to be incredibly close so we stepped into a local cafe and had a bite then back in line we went. We were the first in line and it worked out quite well. After security we went straight to the statue and since the people behind us got hung up we had about five minutes all to ourselves.
The definition and attention to detail of the statue doesn’t quite come through in photos, but when you have the time to take it all it is incredible. And walking around it several times I realized that David is actually holding the rock in his hand, the slingshot running over his shoulder and down his back. The museum held quite a few well known statues, but also had a room of samples. These are cut out of alabaster or other stone for the future “owner” to decide if the artist should go ahead or make any changes. One of the other statues is called The Rape of Sabine, which is more about a young man overcoming an older man more than it is about anything else. Both David and this statue are also in one of the squares that I had wandered through earlier in the week.
We took a long walk back to the train, passing by the Duomo and eventually ending up on the Ponte Vecchio. Which was kind of a thrill for me because now I could experience it with Christine. The past few days were wonderful and I took away some great gifts – Christmas for Christine – and even more better memories. The food, the culture, and the people these past few days have been a real treat and I wish I could share more pictures with you so that hopefully you too will see what all the fuss is about.