Posted by: jility | October 11, 2011

Projects – Power Lines and Pisa

Crappy map of where we went today

It was close to eight AM when the tour bus pulled away from the ship. We had met in the dining room at seven, waiting to be told where to go next. We were scheduled to take a TEN HOUR TOUR of the Tuscan Region of Florence and Pisa. There must have been 20 busses there to take all the passengers on various tours of the area. We lucked out this time, I thought, as the screaming brat stepped on the coach next to ours.

The bus made its way through the small town of Livorno and headed east towards Florence. The first thought that struck me as we wound through the narrow streets onto the highway was  that I wish I had been here to see this place forty years ago. Just as Ireland has changed drastically since I first visited there in the mid sixties, I imagine so has Tuscany. All we saw for miles and miles were housing projects and power lines. There were some very old run down and abandoned villas along the way but, for the most part, it was not what I expected this to be. Laundry strung on lines outside window after window of apartment buildings in disrepair. I found it depressing and disappointing. It was kinda like meeting your hero face to face and learning they have warts.

A small portion of the huge Florence cathedral

The tour guide held up her sign with 11 written on it (our number) and walked very slowly towards the center of the historic part of town. We meandered past and mingled with the thousands of other tourists from all over the world. The first stop was at the enormous Saint Giovanni Cathedral constructed of several colorful local marbles. It went on for blocks. The streets around it were closed to traffic a few years ago because the pollution and vibration ware taking their toll on the beautiful structure. We got quite a history lesson.

People rub the boar’s snout for luck

Perhaps it was the water or maybe the company they kept, but something helped spawn some incredible people in the Region. Names like Michelangelo, Dante, da Vinci, Botticelli and so many more got their start in the area! The sculptures are incredible! Some have been moved to museums and only replicas remain but you get the feeling that these men really appreciated each other’s physique in more ways than one. All I can say is SPECTACULAR!

David and friends

The area is also known for its fine leather goods. There is a school there for leatherworkers and it must be phenomenal because i have never seen such magnificent leatherwork in my life. The entire square smells of new leather and the pieces are gorgeous. We didn’t buy anything, however, as the prices were no bargain! You get what you pay for and these leather goods were remarkable!

Neptune and his kinky little friends

We had a great lunch, window shopped and gathered in Piazza St. Croce to return to our bus for the trip west to Pisa. I have always been fascinated with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and, I have to say, this time I was NOT disappointed! The closer we got to the famous tower, the more impressive it was. Built on soft and shifting soil, the tower sank on one side causing them to abandon the building for more than a hundred years. They resumed work on the structure and tried to straighten it up but all they managed to do was put a slight curve the other way near the top. The building was completed and remains tilted as a reminder that a good foundation is not only important in agility ;)!

Bert and Ernie in front of the Leaning Tower

The vendors in Pisa are never-ending. The booths stretch as far as the eye can see on the other side of the street from the Tower. I picked up a couple of goodies and we headed back to the bus.

Vendors and tourists as far as the eye can see!

Exhausted from the TEN HOUR TOUR, we settled back into our seats for the thirty minute ride back to the ship.

My dogs are killing me and I am stuffed to the gills from gorging at dinner. Now it is off to bed for a good night’s sleep so we can do it all over again tomorrow, only then it will be in Rome and the tour is only NINE AND A HALF HOURS!

Well, I sure liked looking at all those nekkid men in Florence, even if they were made out of marble

Leaving Livorno

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