ROAD TRIP! Today we traveled from Venice to Florence by way of Pisa. We left our hotel in Venice around 8:15 this morning and walked about 10 minutes to the people mover that took us to meet our bus.
The first leg of our journey took about three and half hours, including a stop about half way through for bathrooms and snacks if you were so inclined. In my case I picked up tissues and cough drops; I’m just wild! Being a kid raised on road trips, a day of driving isn’t a big deal, I just put on a podcast and eventually fall asleep. See, I told you: wild! I didn’t sleep the whole time though; if I had I would have missed some beautiful views from the bus window.
Our first stop was at a family run winery in Tuscany. It has been in the same family for over five hundred years! They not only make wine, but also olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sun-dried tomatoes, among other things. They gave the group six different types of wine, as well as dessert wine, and grappa. But more importantly they served us a delicious lunch! We had fresh pasta with ragu (meat sauce), and bruschetta with sundried tomatoes, salami and prosciutto, some amazing olives, and cheese they make on site. Most importantly, they had these to giant Bernese mountain dogs! (Sorry I wasn’t able to get a picture of them alone, they were pretty popular!
Interestingly, the winery was in the town of Colloti. This is where the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio was raised. They even have a statue in the middle of a roundabout.
After lunch we headed to Pisa for a quick stop. We were probably only there for a half hour but it was enough time to get that picture… you know the one. The one where you hold up (or push over) the tower. The really fun part was watching everyone set up to take that same shot… everywhere you looked people were holding up their hands. It looked like a dance troupe in that moment when they’re waiting for the music to start; hands up, big smile!
What we think of as simply “The Leaning Tower of Pisa” is actually the bell tower for the Pisa Cathedral. The Tower took 199 years to complete. Work began in 1173 and then stopped in 1178 until 1272. During that time the soil beneath the foundation had time to settle. If they hadn’t taken 94-year break the tower probably would have just fallen over! They have now stabilized it, so it should be fine for a few hundred more years. It is interesting, because the pictures don’t do the tilt justice!
The baptistry is the largest one in Italy. Because it was built on the same unstable ground as the tower, it actually leans a little bit (0.6 dress) towards the cathedral. There is so much detail on these buildings, they are truly beautiful and intricate. I really loved the brass doors to the cathedral as well. I also liked this carving of face that looks really freaked out about losing his nose.
After that we made the final push into Florence. I can’t wait to explore Florence!