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Saturday, October 8, 2016

An Imperfect Day in Pisa

There is a song by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, "Oh that's good, No that's bad." (https://youtu.be/uheHQ23dTw4) The song explains how bad things may turn out well, while good happenings can lead to poor outcomes.  And so we took off to Pisa.  

We live really close to the "other" train station in Florence and so we are fortunate.  We could take a train from this neighborhood station to the Central Station and there transfer to the Pisa train.  We had a ten minute window for the change.  "Oh, that's good, No that's bad."  Our train came in on track 17, the last track, and never really came fully into the station, stopping only at the beginning of the length of the platform.  The train to Pisa left on track 1a, beyond the other side.  We ran.

We also arrived very early in Pisa, thanks to incorrectly reserved tickets.  "Oh, that's bad, no that's good."  We had plenty of time to wander the streets and shops.  I found a book I had been looking for and a much needed pencil sharpener.  We enjoyed a quiet lunch in the university area, all good, and then we entered tourist land.  The quaint and historic street leading to the main church square, like Main Street in Disneyland, was packed with tourist shops, multiple restaurants and, well, tourists.

Weaving our way through the crowd was so worth it.  The tower, the baptistry and the Duomo (cathedral) all sit in a grassy area surrounded in part by a defensive wall, which is then surrounded by the city.  Pisa was a powerful, wealthy merchant, maritime and warrior community.  The tower is the bell tower of the Duomo.  Most such bell towers are attached to the church but in Pisa a separate and magnificent structure was built.  And, of course, it has the additional distinction of leaning.

First, the bottom third was build, but as the leaning began in the rather wet soil, the construction stopped.  That's bad.  Then, the middle section was added to balance out the lean, so the tower actually curves.  It did not really help.  That's also bad.  Then the top was added.  Then, Pisa became a small university town, instead of a world power, with a first class tourist attraction.  And that is very good.

And soon after climbing we discovered that our return train tickets were for two different trains.  It all worked out.  It was all such a good day.


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