Our bus ride to Pisa was about 1.5 hours – there was a bit of sleep to catch up on. We arrived at lunch time and headed to find a café. We found one that promised “rapido service” and the variety and prices were very good. An appetizer, main course (pasta, pizza or meat dish) and drink for 10-15 Euros (that’s actually quite a good price for tourist areas in Italy.
After lunch we had a guided tour of the 3 buildings that make up the “complex” at Pisa. I know what you’re thinking… 3 buildings, I only know of the Leaning Tower… well, don’t you wish you were on this educational tour and could learn some of this great info.! The other two buildings are the Catholic cathedral and the Baptismal building. The cathedral was impressive, as they all have been so far. The Baptismal was very interesting because it was originally left without a roof. The rain water would fall into the baptismal pool and be used for the community. When they put the dome on they noticed that when certain noted were sung underneath the dome, they echoed back in a beautifully haunting sound. We were fortunate enough to be inside when they closed the doors, a lady came into the area and began singing notes – the echo was amazing and as I noted a bit haunting.
We had a group photo taken with the Leaning Tower in the background. It is one thing to read about this world famous structure, but quite another to actually see it for yourself. Over the centuries there have been many attempts to save the structure, everything from adding lead weights to the lower pillars, changing the height of the pillars on levels as they were added, attempts to pump water underneath the structure and then freeze it, drilling into the ground and “sucking” dirt out so the base would gradually lower. This idea actually worked and the tower moved from 6˚angle to 4˚. It doesn’t sound like much but it was enough the make it stable enough to allow visitors up the 250+ steps to look out over the town. Our group chose to save their 18 Euro and enjoy a nice lunch. We also went to the back of the tower where you could clearly see a bend in the tower, not just the lean from the oft photographed side.
Back on the bus - more sleeping took place. We met up with members from the other schools that opted not to go to Pisa and went to dinner in town. This was our first meal that did not feature pasta or pizza. All except the vegetarians had chicken with veggies and potatoes. There might have been another gelato stop or two that took place during the day, a few souvenir stops and many, many photo stops.
For those of you keeping score at home, the Fit Bit count today was between 18600 and 22,000 – gazelles and Shetland ponies. We pack our bags tonight and check out tomorrow as we move on to Assisi.