Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pisa, Italy

After spending the morning in the Cinque Terre we drove to Pisa. In my mind Pisa just consisted of the leaning tower and several other old buildings. So Luke and I were fairly surprised to drive into a huge city. Not only was it huge, but it was dirty...not like the cities in Switzerland. Even though it was only Wednesday night, every parking spot in Pisa was taken. Finally we found a parking lot that was "monitored" by several intimidating men. Not only did they "request" we pay them to help us park the car, but then they mentioned that they would "watch" our car during the night to make sure it was safe... for a fee. As we left our car I noticed that several of the guys were searching the cars with flashlights. It wasn't a great first impression of the city. 

Thursday morning was a nice day and we headed out to explore Pisa. The city dates back at least to the 5th century BC when it was a large port city. The walls surrounding the city date back to the 12th century. It was  pretty awesome to be able to drive through them in our car. 

The first sight we saw when we left our hotel was the leaning tower.
The leaning tower was started in 1173 and it began to sink immediately.
At first, the tower was leaning in the opposite direction that it is now leaning. Workers attempted to fix the problem by building floors with one side taller than the other which in turn caused the tower to tilt the other direction.
The tower was completed in 1319. Then from 1990-2001 the tower was closed while workers attempted to stabilize the tower. Even though the tower is now deemed "safe" again, it is still sinking... about 1mm per year.
One of Pisa's famous residents was Galileo Galilei. He was born in Pisa and attended the University of Pisa. I read somewhere that he had dropped balls of different masses off of the leaning tower when he was studying physics.

 Next to the tower is the Duomo which was begun in 1064.

Huge bronze doors at the entrance to the Duomo

 A close up of one of the intricate panels
 Close up of one of the columns
A fire in 1595 destroyed most of the statues and works of art inside the church. Miraculously, the Christ in Majesty apse survived the flames.

 Jack taking a picture of the dome
 The dome
To the west of the Duomo is the baptistery, the largest one in Italy. The baptistery is separate from the Duomo (church) and is built around the baptismal font. Usually the baptistery will have a separate room for catechumens and then the main room is centered around the baptismal font.
Jack's "casual" walk in front of the baptistery
 Close up of the design
Arch over the door
 Now that Jack is potty trained, we have to watch for the tell tale signals of impending accidents
 The grass surrounding the tower and the church had signs not to walk on it. But the grass by the baptistery had no signs (that I saw) so Jack was able to run free
 More cats for Jack to chase
 A side view of the Duomo. Seeing Jack next to it (on the left) shows you how large this building is.
 Little boy sitting on the big steps
 My guys tired of sightseeing
 The shops along the main road.
 Looks as if the tower is ready to fall on top of us at any moment
 Coffe break!
 Walking back to our hotel with the tower in the distance
After spending the morning sightseeing we were ready to get to the rolling hills of Tuscany.

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