Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pisa and Lucca

Our hotel receptionist suggested that we visit Pisa first and then Lucca on Sunday and as it turned out she was correct.  Pisa yesterday was crowded but not nearly as crowded as we think a Sunday may have been.  Lucca today was tranquilo with folks strolling around the wonderful old city and its ramparts but more on Lucca later, Pisa first.

PISA - The train to Pisa was fast, fifty minutes, and we were in another world with a beautiful small leaning tower. We wandered around the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) with its Cathedral,  Bapistry, and Tower.
The Cathedral has a wonderful sense of space and is decorated with large paintings on all walls.  It is one of the only Cathedral's we have visited that allows photography making it all the better to visit.  I did not go into the Bapistry as I had remembered it as being plain and with many steps to climb.  The intrepid Andree took the challenge and did visit the Bapistry. Neither of us climbed the tower, I did it in 1989 and these days half the fun has been taken away.  Today you cannot come down on the outside further than two levels.  I remember coming down on the outside and as you came down on the leaning side your pace changed to a run. We walked back to the station via the university district (one road) and did not come across Galileo's dwelling.  I did spot the Geology Department which we visited in 1989.
The Cathedral, Bapistry and Tower are all in the Field of Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli).  I remember being amazed the first time I saw the tower as to how small it is.
When Garry and I went up the tower in 1989 tourists were permitted to come all the way down on the outside.  Today this is not permitted.
Parrocchie S. Nicola has been raised to be above flood level.

Back in Firenze we returned to Trattoria a Guido where we had our first meal the day we arrived.  Our meal was superb (not to die for yet) but very, very, good so we vowed to return there for our final meal in Firenze tomorrow evening.  What did we have?  Scallopini in mushroom sauce for Andrée and Scallopini in white wine sauce for me.  Hmmm .... delicious.

Matilda's beloved Lucca was the favorite Tuscan city of the Countess of Canossa. Having read about Matilda I was interested in visiting the Cathedral San Martino, that she rebuilt to house the Volto Santo.  Volto Santo is the relic (true face of Christ) supposedly carved by Nicodemus over 2,000 years ago. Andrée and I decided that should this not be the truth then we at least know Volto Santo existed in 1052 when Matilda first saw it.
Just as Kathleen McGowan writes, the labyrinth is on the West Portico wall before you enter the Cathedral. In Matilda's time the labyrinth was painted on this wall then one hundred years later it was carved into the stone.  I traced my finger around the labyrinth but the throngs of people waiting to photograph it made tracing my way in and out of the labyrinth not possible today. The six petal rose in the center has been completely demolished however it is an eleven step labyrinth just as in Chartres.
We walked around this beautiful calm city taking in the sights and enjoyed lunch in a piazza while people watching as we ate and then walked along the city wall.
San Martino's Campanile from the Centro Storico (old city center) walls/ramparts.
Below: San Giovanni Basilique where the 150th anniversary of the birth of Giacomo Puccini (1858-2008) was held.  Puccini was baptized here on 23rd December, 1858 and the funeral of Puccini's father was held here on 23rd January, 1864.

Dinner again tonight was very good, we both enjoyed Chicken with Rosemary and grilled vegetables, and washed it down with a glass or two of wine.  This was finished off nicely for the second night with a gratis Limoncello.  It has been a lovely visit to Tuscany.

Andrée:  We had a wonderful time wandering around Roma, Umbria and Tuscany.  We have become quite practiced at finding our way from point to point by local train and tomorrow we are off to Venice for a more, um, watery experience of Italy.  (Though I trust there will still be red wine to enjoy...)

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