The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The title is what you go there to see, which is fine as there is pretty much nothing else there! Our trip to Pisa was unplanned, we had not long been to Venice after being chased from the Dolomites by bad weather. After spending an age trying to decide where to go next, we looked at weather, and everywhere was average or worse, so this was going to be a hard decision! Jess watched a video on Facebook of clear blue skies, clear blue water and lovely beaches, this is what we wanted, ‘Sardinia’, and so we did a little research, worked out the costs and drove to the port of Livorno.

This is where the Pisa excursion begins, in a small town, just outside Livorno called Antignano, it had some decent off road parking that was just off the promenade. We had nice weather for once, which is a bonus as the only clean clothes I have left are shorts etc, summer wear that has not got much use this summer! Jess was also caught off guard, as she had not shaved her legs, so we both let our hairy legs out and hit the town!
We walked to the station, following clearly marked signposts…oh sorry they did not exist! Once we arrived we found no ticket office, no information and no staff, so we were off to a good start. We asked a couple of locals what platform for Pisa, ‘platform one’ with a point to the opposite side of the track, brilliant, on to the next question, where do you buy a ticket ‘bar’ with a flick of the hand in a very generalised direction…ok, we set off to town to find the ‘bar’ but at 10.00am all the bars were closed, as you might expect. I’m pretty sure they send all the tourists to the bar, and have a laugh watching them wander off into town to find this imaginary ticket bar.
Once back at the station, we were on the platform we were told to be on, although we saw a tv screen on the other side displaying some information, so made our way over. We spoke to an Irish couple who were also on platform one, hang on a minute, the other platform was platform one? I looked around for a platform number, nothing, apart from at the end each platform had both 1 and 2 written? Who knows, we certainly didn’t! Considering we had both asked at the same office, it appears that platform one was on both sides, as was platform two. It all seemed very illogical, all very Italian and in the end we waited on one side until we could see the train coming, as you might have guessed we were on the wrong side and hurried through the underpass to the other side to finally get on the train to Pisa. I’m guessing it depends on what day you get there, but either side can be either platform and the train goes to whichever it chooses, it’s a loose loose situation if you are tourist.

The painted building and the death trap square

The short train ride to Pisa followed some ugly scenery, and once there we made our way out of the main exit and headed directly forward through the high street, following the throng of people. We did a slight detour, and ended up in … square which had an awesome building, with a painted front, which as you are admiring its details, buses are trying to run you down, as the traffic runs freely across the piazza without any road markings or order, it was a bit like a less busy Arc De Triumph, only square and with less order.

The ruins

We then came to a random set of ruins, a tower and some strewn boulders, all bordered by a barricade. Now this must be important, and it was my mission to find out what this was and why it is here, I needed to find out the historical context for these ruins. We set of to find the information board and circumnavigated the whole set of ruins, I saw a board, the excitement grew inside me, I was about to discover this fascinating history for myself! Anticipation turned into disappoint the closer I got, as I began to realise that they had installed the framework for the information board, but forgot to put the information in…

The very informative information board!

When we entered the Campo die Miracoli we could see the tower and the cathedral. Unsurprisingly the tower was leaning, and at an alarming angle, it was more than I expected, I have to admit it looked pretty cool. Better than the tower though, was the people watching, as each person tried in vain for the perfect shot of holding the tower up, or pushing it, and some were even managing to do it with their legs in the air…this made for some great viewing, I believe that if aliens are ever looking at this spot for signs of an intelligent life form, they won’t think very much of what they see! Although, if you can’t beat them, join them and I failed at taking a photo of Jess supporting the tower, lots of photo shop needed to make that work! 

Holding the tower up with leg power alone

It’s hard to believe that when designing, surveying and building such a magnificent tower that they built it on unstable ground, even when construction was only half way through the tower started tilting in shifting soil? Most people would put the brakes on, and rebuild elsewhere, but no, they continue… there might be a story behind this, I might read into it, but for now I’m just going to put it down to the quirky way Italians seem to do things! 
I also remembered reading in the lonely planet guide that the Campo die Miracoli was… “amongst the most beautiful squares in the world”, “the immaculate walled lawns”, yeah that’s right, describing squares of grass as the most beautiful in the world. To me personally this was something of an overstatement, they were just lots of different squares of grass! Although there was an armed military guard who I saw making sure people stayed off the grass, shit is that serious, don’t touch the grass!

So that’s it, Pisa is pretty much just a leaning tower, and a few other buildings. I did smell some awesome food in the back alleys, but I was too tight to splash out, instead I brought some clothes hooks. My one souvenir from Pisa is a set of clothes hooks that look like climbers? I mean how cool is that! Maybe I should have got a selfie stick from one of the many for sale from street sellers, although there were no squishy balls, so I guess they are exclusive and only available in Venice!

The only free toilets in the whole of Italy
My crap efforts of taking a photo of Jess supporting Pisa


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