Monday, July 04, 2011

I Remember ... The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Checking out, turning in keys, and settling hotel bills for a group our size all takes time in our morning routine. It gets pretty crowded in the lobby. Once we were settled in our seats many elected to take a nap on the long morning drive.
It's strange to be away from home on the Fourth of July. No red-white-and blue, fireworks, stars -and -stripes. There was only a mention of it on the bus. It makes us a little homesick for family and friends.
Our day's itinerary involved stopping in Pisa with our final destination: Florence.
Last night's storm moved out and it was once again beautiful and sunny. On the road we moved away from the lake area and had a great view of the Alps ... lovely covered in snow. We drove across the Plains of Lombardy and the forested Apennine Mountains. We were making good time but near Genova we encountered traffic problems, slowing us down. It seems like our travels are taking us through tunnel after tunnel.

At 12:15 p.m. we arrived at Pisa and rode a shuttle to the famous Field of Miracles to see the tower. It was nice to see so much green grass ... and there before us stood the the leaning tower, one of Italy's most famous landmarks.
I think I was expecting something much taller. It is nearly 200 feet tall and 55 feet wide, leaning at a five degree angle. Construction started in 1173 and took two centuries and at least three different architects to complete the project. It was a little crooked right from the beginning and each architect tried to correct the problem without success.
The tower was closed in 1990 for repairs and 30 million was spent trying to stabilize it, probably giving it life for several more centuries. We did not climb the tower, but like everyone in the crowd, we took a few crazy poses of each of us trying to hold the tower up. Not so good : (

The heat was intensifying and we knew the perfect cure ... gelato! We boarded the shuttle and headed toward Florence at 1:30.

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