This was supposed to be a trip to Budapest. Flights were booked, research was done and itinerary set with military precision. Then a certain budget airline changed our flights to leaving and arriving at stupid o’clock and scuppered all these best laid plans. At least we were allowed to re-book, so having checked availability we showed Son the list of destinations and gave him the choice – Pisa leapt out (all to do with a certain Tower I think) but that was that. Pisa was where we were headed. After all the hassle the flight was great and with views like this of the Alps en route, who could fail to be impressed?
We had been to Pisa years ago (before Son) for one of those fleeting visits that was all about the Tower. This time I was determined to see if there was anything beyond the Square of Miracles. Plenty of people commented pre-trip how it was an ugly city, there was nothing else to do but climb the Tower and even some travel blogs I checked out were not entirely complimentary about Pisa. I am pleased to say we completely disagreed. We walked from the railway station to the Arno River and were enthralled. Son was enthralled with the WiFi signs – he thought the buildings were “nice” but the signs did it for him.
The buildings did it for us though – Pisa goes back to Etruscan and Roman times and there is no better way to soak up a feeling for the ancient city than by strolling through the narrow, winding streets. The buildings are gorgeous – Medieval and Renaissance beauties with piazzas galore.
The centre is small but quite lively – 60,000 students in a town of 100,000 inhabitants – so I guess you should expect a vibrant buzz.
In the Middle Ages this was a great maritime republic rivalling Genoa and Venice. We stood on the bridge over the Arno River and took in the cream, yellow and rust coloured mansions, palazzos and churches lining the waterside.
Approaching the Tower and the more touristy part of town, Son was much taken with a Jamaican/Rasta boar outside a cafe and decided this would be our eating establishment of choice (nothing about food, all to do with the boar).
We sat in the sunshine and feasted on a Tuscan speciality platter – no idea exactly what, but it involved ham, bread, cheese, olives and much deliciousness and was just the thing to set us up for our later Tower climb.