On my way to Cinqueterre, I make a short stop in Pisa. I’m not sure what’s here, besides a famously leaning tower, but it was on the way and seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon! I walk through a lot of the town (the Tower is on the opposite end of town than the train station), see some quaint streets and plazas, and a bunch of the “arcades” that apparently Pisa is known for – stone arched covered open spaces for markets and such.
I cross the river and decide to try a restaurant that was recommended in my guide book. I don’t think I’ve actually eaten at any restaurant recommended by my guide book on my travels so far, usually relying on Google Maps and Trip Advisor’s ratings and reviews to choose places instead, or more often walking into random places that seem convenient. This restaurant, though, was indeed worth the recommendation. The food was even worth the 45 minutes or so it took to arrive. I’m pretty sure this was the best food I’ve had in Italy. The first course wasn’t anything particularly special, Carpaccio di Bresola con Rucola e Grana – cold cuts and some cheese, I guess. The main course, Fettuccine alla Pisana, was amazingly good. Fresh cherry tomatoes, some incredibly flavorful bacon, good cheese, and dripping with oil.
I pass through a square with a statue dedicated to the Medici family – they were the ones who reigned in Florence during a lot of the Renaissance, and also controlled Pisa for a time. The statue is of one of the Medici rulers with his foot planted firmly on… a dolphin. Apparently indicating that they ruled the sea (at least, the sea near Pisa), but looking a bit ridiculous to me.
And, finally, I make it to the tower which, from the angle I enter the square, barely looks like it’s leaning. Oh, from over here, it’s definitely leaning.
They’ve stabilized the tower, so it will not continue sinking any further into Pisa’s soft ground, and people are allowed to climb up the tower, however only 20 people every 20 minutes or something, and the next available slots are after my train leaves, so I do not get a chance to climb it. There are a few other famous sights on the “field of miracles” which I also try to visit. The cathedral is free to enter, but you need a timed slot, and those are also after my train leaves, so I am unable to tour that. However, I notice, as with a lot of places, they have a entrance for “prayers and pilgrims,” with no line. No photos are allowed through here, I only have access to a chapel area (though I feel special in that it’s an area the tourists are not allowed in to), and I take some time to reflect and pray inside another gorgeous cathedral. Similar story with the Baptistery. While I am in the Baptistery, in the main area, a tour guide calls for silence and proceeds to sing a chord with herself. The acoustics inside this circular stone building are phenomenal (and famous), such that when she stopped singing a note, it continued resounding almost as loudly for a good 5 seconds or so, making it easy to weave notes together into a chord sung by just one person.
Seeing all I can see in my short time in Pisa, I grab a snack (from a recommended Gelato place that was quite good) and hop on a series of trains to my next stop, Riomaggiore in the Cinqueterre. For my first (not very busy) train, I get a nice, comfy private coach of 6 seats all to myself!