Friday, October 31, 2014

A Piece of Pisa, Italy

Pisa, Italy, the conclusion of our Europe Trip!
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, and is famous for it's Leaning Tower, but there are over 20 other historic sights throughout the city.  We recommend it as a city to visit between other destinations, it is smaller and the major points of interest are around the Leaning Tower in Cathedral Square.

Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral Square, is a beautiful area in Pisa that has it all!  A beautifully intricate Cathedral sits on a soft green lawn in between the Cathedral's Bell Tower and the Baptistery with a beautiful Cemetery on the side and the entire area is surrounded by an old stone wall.  You can visit all four sights including a museum and each will truly amaze you!         

The Cathedral, started in 1064 by architect Busketo, set the standard for Pisan Romanesque architecture!  The distinctive facade of grey marble and white stone was done by master Rainaldo.  So beautiful when you stand before it, like a wall of white lace:)  Inside the large bronze doors you'll find mosaics and paintings throughout the cathedral and an elaborately carved pulpit.
The Baptistery dedicated to St. John the Baptist is the shorter, rounded structure in front of the Cathedral.  The interior is overwhelming, though plain and without decorations of artwork, the ceiling seems to soar to the sky!  You can climb the slim stone stairs around the edge of the Baptistery to the second level and experience the dizzying effect when you look down onto the ground floor!!!!  Plus, there are windows to look out for glorious views of the entire square:)
The Bell Tower, also known as the Leaning Tower sits just behind the Cathedral and has been sinking into the ground for hundreds of years!!!!  Building of the tower began in 1173 and it took 177 years to build in three stages.  Just five years after building began the foundation began to sink into the ground, so it was left for a century to stabilize.  When construction began again the upper floors were built one side taller than the other to further the stabilization.  There has been much discussion over the years to make adjustments to the tower to straighten it, but it has become such a global icon of Italy, that the lean will remain for as long as the tower stands!
The Monumental Cemetery, Camposanto Monumental, is the Gothic Cloister that was built in 1278.  It was built upon a shipload of sacred soil brought back from Calvary in the fourth crusade!  Some say it is the most beautiful cemetery in the world, and I'd have to agree!  Walking throughout the buildings in this cemetery you can't help but feel a strong sense of true peace.  The inner walls are covered in old fresco paintings of nature and scenes from religious manuscripts.  The inner courtyard is filled with planted rose bushes and green, green grass, stone benches are placed throughout for guests to sit in the sun and reflect on their spirituality.  Out of all the structures in the square, we stayed the longest in the cemetery, I completely fell in love with every step of the place:)

After you've visited the square venture out into the rest of the city!  Grab a Pizza, Pasta and Chianti and experience the flavors of Pisa at any of the local restaurants!  As with any city and it's bistros, check out the atmosphere, the menu and dive in!  Pisa is also known for its outdoor markets!!!  Be sure to find a market near you and peruse the antiques, clothing and crafts from the areas locals.  There are also exquisite shops where you can find true Italian leather goods among many other beautiful objects! 

Pisa is also a great place to explore with friends!  We were so lucky to have been able to visit a dear friend of ours from America who was in Pisa at the same time:)  Not only did we explore the city together, we wined and dined late into the evenings!  Remember the dress I purchased in the Cinque Terre, days earlier????  The peacock blue, Italian silk dress made its debut out on the town:)  And was well received;)

While we loved the hustle and bustle of Pisa, the sea called to us once again, so we took a train out to the beaches of Forte dei Marmi!  We spent one whole day in utter relaxation on the beach at a beautiful beach club, there are many up and down the beach, you'll have to pay for the day but it's relatively inexpensive and you'll have everything within arms reach!  Lunch, lockers, dressing rooms, club chairs, umbrellas, towels and restrooms:)  The water was beautifully clear and shallow, we took walks on the beach, got into the water and laid out in the sunshine. 

Lunch was amazing!  Seafood, fresh and delicious was laid out before us and the wine flowed, conversation and good times were had by all;)  Our trip to Pisa was a true success, filled with great food, amazing sights and experiences and true, beloved friends!!!

Make a stop in Pisa for a weekend and see what I mean;)

(The Romans are Coming;)

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