Today was an early day, so instead of hanging out on the balcony checking out the view coming into port, Jim was getting ready for our excursion. The photos above were taken on our way out.
Our port in Livorno, Italy was met with much anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Who could go to Italy and not see THAT! But what we saw was SO much more. With most churches in Italy jam-packed inside the city, it was very refreshing to see this “complex” located on so much green grass, almost out of town.
Since I hadn’t brushed up on my history for quite some time, I had no idea that the Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) was home to not only the infamous Leaning Tower, but also a spectacular Duomo (Cathedral), Baptistry and the Campo Santo (the monumental cemetery). The structures symbolize the three stages of life – the Baptistry representing birth, the Cathedral representing life and we all know what the cemetery represents. Although we were not able to go into the Tower on our tour, standing outside was certainly a thrill!
Since I had no pictures of the entire campus that didn’t have people’s heads covering up the lower half, I summoned the talents of this gentleman: Patrick Landy known as FSU Guy at en.wikipedia. A few people dot his picture, but they are not as distracting. There are so many gorgeous pictures of this place if you google “pisa, italy” you’ll see hundreds of excellent shots, from all angles and all sides. I think I was in awe of the entire place, which surprises me that I don’t have some better pictures, but in my defense I hadn’t even started this blog at that time, so I was unaware I’d have an audience to speak to and show my photographs.
Completed in 1363 in Romanesque and Gothic designs, the Baptistry is built on the same unstable sand as the Tower and cathedral, so it leans a little too. We were able to enter the Baptistry as part of our tour. It was quite beautiful inside and there are a lot more great pictures of its awesome interior here. During our tour, a man sang several long notes to demonstrate the amazing acoustics and they say that choir concerts held inside can be heard from miles away. I wish I would have taken a video of the demonstration, because you would swear there was more than one person singing at the time. There was a lot of scaffolding on the back, so some rejuvenation was taking place.
“Galileo is believed to have formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum by watching the swinging of the incense lamp (not the present one) hanging from the ceiling of the nave. That lamp, smaller and simpler than the present one, it is now kept in the Camposanto, in the Aulla chapel.” – READ MORE
We were not allowed inside the Cathedral, because there was a service of some kind. Named Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption), the exterior is fabulous grey marble and white stone with inlays of colored marble and massive bronze main doors that are engraved with various stories from the bible. In the photo above, the doors are open, so you can’t really tell, but check google, you’ll see them! This Cathedral is one of the finest of the Romanesque period and resembles other early basilican churches, with long rows of columns connected by arches. What a fabulous structure. In the map above, you will notice its cross-shaped design. If you’d like to see a 360° view of the entire Square of Miracles, click here. The pictures below the map show the West entrance to the Cathedral.
The Monumental Cemetery was constructed in 1278 to house sacred dirt during the Crusades. It then became the burial place of the Pisan upper class. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the Cemetery, but if you’re interested here is a link to some great ones and more history.
Considered a sacred area by the Catholic Church and framed by medieval walls, the complex is maintained by the Opera (fabrica ecclesiae) della Primaziale Pisana, an old non-profit foundation that has operated since the building of the Cathedral in 1063.
We finished our tour with a 30 minute drive, passing medieval villages and green valleys covered in vineyards and olive trees, into the wine area of Montecarlo di Lucca (Pinocchio’s birthplace!). We visited a beautiful estate and saw vines where some of the best Tuscan wine is produced. There was a short talk about wine production and of course we had to have some samples, and then a few more, along with some salami, cheese and bread. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Can I have another glass of that wine?
For more history and great pictures of Pisa, click here.
Pisa, Italy – A Must See!
Next stop: When in Rome…