Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pisa, Italy

On Saturday morning, I took the 70-minute bus ride to Pisa. I figured I could hit the city highlights in one day since I had a 7 AM flight Sunday morning. There was a slight drizzle as I left Florence but the sky was clear on the ride back. Then it poured down rain just as soon as I made it to the main city square. I had an umbrella but that really didn’t help much and I wasn’t able to get in to my hostel for another couple of hours. So I went and had some lunch as I tried to wait out the storm. After about an hour, the rain was still coming down but I was able to check out some sights.

I looked like a wet dog by the time I made it in to my room. Everything in my back pack was soaked including the post cards I had already written and stamped. I tried to dry everything out as much as I could. If you received a warped postcard from me from Italy then this is why. About an hour later the sun came out. If I had taken the bus two hours later then I wouldn’t have had a problem. Go figure! But I can’t really complain because there are far worse places than Italy to be stuck in a rain storm.
The Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), is where you find the cathedral, the baptistery and the Leaning Tower. The entire square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. My hostel was only a 3 minute walk away.
The Duomo di Pisa is the medieval cathedral dedicated to St. Mary of the Assumption. Construction began in 1064. The style is Romanesque but there is a strong Byzantine influence. The artwork on the ceiling is just awesome. There was a huge fire in 1595 that destroyed most of the medieval works of art.

It’s said that this is where Galileo formulated his theory about a pendulum’s movement.

The Baptistry of St. John, or il Battistero di San Giovanni (it sounds so much cooler in Italian), is the largest baptistery in Italy. It is 54.86 meters (~180 feet) high with a circumference of 107.24 meters (~351.8 feet). Construction on the marble building began in 1152 in a Romanesque style and finished in 1363 in the Gothic style.

La Torre Pendente di Pisa is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. It’s the bell tower tower for the cathedral. Construction began in 1173 and it was completed about 200 years later. It leans 5,4 meters (~17.72 feet) to the Southwest and is 8 stories tall.

When you go to Pisa you have to take the obligatory ‘hold up the tower’ photo.
Some of the other main sights were...

The Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knight’s Square). The main attraction is the Palazzo della Carovana, founded by Napoleon in 1810, which is not the Scuola Normale Superiore.

Santa Maria della Spina is a small church on the River Arno. Built in 1230, it is considered one of the most impressive Gothic structures in Europe. In 1333 it received a thorn that was supposed to be part crown worn by Jesus Christ on the cross.

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