Nom de Plumage

June 10, 2012

It’s Pouring in Pisa

Today, I retrace yesterdays journey to Pisa with some trepidation, for the sky is not too promising and the clouds are very heavy and grey. But as always, when travelling  with limited time, you take what you get and just run with it. To exit Pisa’s train station you first need to push your way past the young black men who are very insistent in trying to sell you an umbrella. As I already posses one, I push past and start walking in the most obvious direction. In all honesty, I have no idea and just hope that a tourist bureau is on the way. It is and I grab a map and continue my walk to the river before the rain starts. With most larger Italian cities, they all have one thing in common and that is a waterway. Pisa is no exception, although their river is muddy coloured and fast flowing due to the heavy rain. But as I stand on the brick structure, with the raging river below, Pisa is laid out before me and it is the first city on my journey that shows a less affluent and more eroded region of Italy. 

I have to be honest and state that at first I was disappointed and thought the city to be a bustling university type district. So to see the opposite, threw be back a little. That is until I crossed the bridge and started to walk through narrow dark lane ways, past beautiful little apartments, old stone structures and ruins from the ancient era of prosperity and conquering wealth. One such ruin belonged to the infamous Nero and a remnant of one of his bath houses in a state of ruin.

And so the road ahead leads me straight down to the most famous site in Pisa and the one so synonymous for the reasons why so many tourists visit this part of Italy. The ‘leaning tower’ is directly ahead and it is only one part of the beautiful site. To enter the tower, you have to pay and there is always a queue. It was always going to an option regardless of the price, that is until the thunder rolled in along with lightning and pouring rain. Tourists ran in all directions looking for cover. I ran for the abbey and spent an hour there waiting for the storm to abate. But it was a beautiful hour and an eye opener.

The bombings from World War 2 not only brought destruction to the abbey and it also brought a wealth of new discovery. Hidden under the stone floor, lay artefacts from the ancient era that now lay broken before all to see. So here, amongst the ruins, I walk the uneven stone floor and listen to the thunder pound the roof and just watch the beauty of my surroundings.

My photo’s show only some of the wonderful frescoes and sculptures on display. A precious break in the downpour gave me the opportunity to see inside the baptistry. No photographs are allowed and it was also another refuge for the tourists from the rain. But what I did see was very beautiful. The rain started again, but was now accompanied by wind and I was starting to feel cold and wet. I walked back towards the main pedestrian road that had many cafes and shops and it was in one of these that I had some lunch. My hot chocolate was a delicious molten chocolate delight, but my club sandwich was anything but disappointing. It had no bacon, some seafood flavoured chunky mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on crusty bread that was difficult to cut. Oh well, it kept me out of the rain and filled my tummy, so all was not lost.

For those of you who do not know, Pisa is the birth place of one of Italy’s most famous writer/poet and that man is Dante Alighieri. There is a ‘square’ that bears his name and is the place of his birth. I walked and walked trying to discover this place, only to have found it and failed to realise that I did. So I continued walking and found a beautiful open square that had some beautiful buildings and was the university quarter of the city. It was here that my umbrella finally gave up and died and so with no protection from the rain, I decide to head back to the train station. But not without returning and recognising ‘Dante’s Square’


A word of caution, never carry a broken and defeated umbrella with you in Italy’s hottest tourist spots because it is like waving a red flag to a bull. The amount of young men harassing me to buy a new umbrella was ridiculous. But I successfully made it back to the train station and enjoyed being dry and warm in the comfort of the train back to Florence.




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