For the month of May Taylor gets every Friday off which has been awesome. May 18th and 19th we went to Pisa and Lucca for 2 days. We drove down on Friday morning and spent the day in Pisa and then drove about 30 minutes to the small town of Lucca, spent the night, and spent the next day walking around Lucca.
Most people go to Pisa to just see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but we did a short Rick Steve's tour of the town and really enjoyed this little town.
This is the Arno River that runs through Pisa.
We got the best gelato here! I know I say that in every town we visit, but this really is the best I've had. It was so creamy!
A small vegetable market.
This is Piazza dei Cavalieri which was once the location of the independent Republic of Pisa's govt. Then Florence took over and made it the training place for the knights. Then later, Napoleon made part of the buildings the University of Pisa which is one of Europe's oldest universities.
I didn't realize all this before we visited, but the leaning tower is the bell tower for the Duomo or Catholic church in Pisa. In this small, tourist packed area there was the Duomo, baptistery, cemetery, Field of Miracles, Leaning tower, and a museum.
We were able to climb to the top of the leaning tower which was pretty cool. This the narrow spiral stairwell we climbed. Definitely not a place for the claustrophobic!
Here are some pics from the top…
The tower is currently leaving 15 feet off the vertical axis which is at a 5 degree angle. After taking 5 years to finish the base and the first arcade they realized that the tower was sinking due to unstable soil. They continued to build 4 more stories and then it sat there unfinished for 100 years. The next architect tried to correct the problem by angling the next 3 stories in the opposite direction of the lean. It then sat for another 100 years. Finally, a guy put the belfry on top and since then they have tried several times to stop the leaning. It was actually closed in 1990 so they could try to stabilize it. After drilling 15 foot holes in the ground and sucked out 60 tons of soil, which made the north side sink, and straitened its leaning by about 6 inches.
Taylor said he is an engineer, he can fix this!
We got a kick out of this lady who was having her professional picture taken. While everyone else has the Leaning Tower in the background, she has a big field of tourists with their hands in the air for her background??
We asked this girl to take a picture of us with the tower in the background. This is what we got. We knew the pictures were going to be bad when instead of bending her knees in order to get lower to get a good shot, she bent over with her head upside down. Really??
Luckily her boyfriend was there to get a decent shot of us with the tower!
This is a funny picture of all the other people taking pictures holding up the tower.
The best kind of Leaning Tower is a chocolate one!
Here are some pictures from inside of the Duomo. They began building it in 1063.
This is all mosaic.
The casket and mummy of Pisa's patron saint, St. Ranieri.
Some pretty amazing carvings.
The baptistery had great acoustics. If you stand at the bottom and make a noise it will echo for at least 10 seconds. So, if you sing 3 tones within 10 seconds one person can make a chord. A security guard sings every 30 minutes and we just happened to be there when she sang. It sounded really cool.
Camposanto Cemetery which is famous for its "Holy Land" dirt, which supposedly reduces a body into a skeleton within a day.
We walked by this restaurant on our way out of town...
Lucca has 2.5 miles of Renaissance walls around it that have never been bombed. The city has had some kind of walls up for 2,000 years. The ramparts are really wide and people bike, run, and stroll along the path.
Piazza Anfiteatro which used to be a Roman amphitheater.
This is an old storefront that has a T-shaped arrangement. This design dates back from a time when the merchants sold their goods in front, did their work in the back, and lived upstairs. Now it is a shoe store.
Cecina or Ceci is a Lucca specialty and is a garbanzo-bean crepe sold in pizza shops. Taylor ordered the cecina with mozzarella. Not sure why the face?
And I chose cecina with nutella…of course!
Pretty flowers on the balcony.
Antique market going on in one of the piazzas.
We really liked this charming little town. There was no specific sight to see like in Pisa, but it was fun to walk around and explore.