Trip to Pisa
Since the last time I posted I have eaten some more great food, been to Pisa, and seen some amazing views (see above).
As I mentioned in my earlier post, Wednesday was Three Kings Day, or The Epiphany, so class was cancelled. So I went with a bunch of girls that I met to Pisa for the day. I had heard that there is not much to do in Pisa other than seeing the Leaning Tower to I was honestly prepared to be a bit underwhelmed. I could not have been more wrong. While it is true that Pisa does not have that much to do, the things that it has were absolutely amazing and totally worth the trip!
I woke up early and walked with my friend from NY to the train station. There we met up with two of her roommates who are also from NY and four Brazilian girls that are in her class. Me and 7 girls, haha. The train from Florence to Pisa is about an hour long and I spent the time getting to know everyone I was going with. Once in Pisa we walked from the train station toward Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo, where the Leaning Tower is. (The word Duomo is used to describe the main Cathedral in an Italian city)
On the way there we crossed the Arno river, which is the same river that runs through Florence. It is lined with beautiful buildings including this very small, beautiful Gothic church that we just happened to walk by.
Eventually we arrived at the Piazza del Duomo and I was immediately struck amazed by the Leaning Tower. The pictures do not do it justice! The lean looks so much more pronounced in person and it really is mind blowing to see.
After taking all of the cliche pictures in front of the tower climbed to the top. The walk up the spiral staircase is pretty tight and the marble steps have been extremely worn down by the number of people who have walked up and down. I’m not sure if it was psychological or not but inside the Tower you definitely feel off balance. Walking up the stairs was strange as I kept feeling like I was falling over to one side. The view from the top was gorgeous. While we were at the top the bells from Tower started ringing and it was really cool.
After we came down from the top of the Leaning Tower we went inside the Cathedral. I was not allowed to take pictures, but the inside of the Cathedral was amazing. We were only allowed in the very back of the church as there was a mass going on. There were beautiful frescos on the walls and the ceiling was patterned and covered in gold. It was also very cool to see the mass going on in such an amazing space.
From there we went into the Baptistery. While less ornate than the Cathedral and less famous than the Leaning Tower, it may have been my favorite one of the three. They ask not to speak when you enter and as soon as anyone makes a noise its apparent why. The acoustics are incredible inside and sound reverberates like crazy. I had read in my guidebook that once every 30 minutes a security guard comes inside and sings chords to show the amazing acoustics and we were lucky enough to randomly be inside the Baptistery when it happened. Also inside the Baptistery is a pulpit that I learned about in my Art History class in high school carved by Nicola Pisano in the mid 1200s!
After we finished up at the Piazza del Duomo, we walked through the streets of Pisa to a little hole in the wall restaurant that I found online. The menu was hand written in Italian and after some google translating I got the Fettuccine with Sausage and Chestnuts, which was. very good. After lunch we walked around the city some more and then headed back to the train station.
We took the train back to Florence and I went with the girls to a church called San Miniato al Monte, that they needed to see for their art and architecture class. The church is located on the other side of the river, on top of a mountain (al Monte) that overlooks the entire city. The walk was long and you had to climb a lot of stairs but the view from the top and the church itself were both unbelievable!
The church was very dark inside and there was a man playing the organ while we walked around. My pictures aren't great due to the lack of light but there were beautiful frescoes on the wall, including a large one of Christ the Redeemer in the apse of the church. There was one part downstairs in the church which I was not allowed to take pictures in but it was beautifully decorated and was lit by lots of candles.
As we left the church the sun started to set and the view just kept getting better and better. We walked over to Piazzale Michelangelo, a big square nearby that overlooks the city, and took pictures as the sun went down. I want to go back again with my camera because some of the pictures I took with my phone are blurry but some are still pretty incredible.
After a long day of sightseeing I went back to my apartment for a bit before heading over to the school run restaurant, Ganzo, for their weekly aperitivo, called Aperiganzo. For €5 you get a drink and there is an unlimited buffet meats, cheese and small plates all prepared by the culinary students. I am not sure yet but I may end up working there once I start my culinary classes. I forgot to take pictures of the food but I’m sure I’ll be back soon, haha.
Over 30,000 steps or 15 miles of walking later, and an amazing day of sightseeing I finally went to bed! Stay tuned for a post soon about my trip to Parma and Modena where I got to taste and see how they make Parmigiano-Regianno, Prosciutto di Parma and Balsamic Vinegar!