Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Little old Pisa. I only knew it for the leaning tower, but apparently it was a major force in its heyday, until they lost a couple of wars with the nearby Florentines. I had also never noticed inn the photos, the three other white marble buildings in the same square, all dating from around the 11th-13th centuries; the baptistery, the cathedral, the and the funerary. A sort of hatched, matched and despatched trifecta, with the leaning bell-tower ringing out the news.

The lean was perhaps more pronounced than I expected, though frustratingly, my camera seems to annul the lean due to perspective. Will just have to see how they turn out. It is all sparkly new, having just been through a 5 year long renovation and stabilisation. We were surprised to find them using these octopus straps to hold it together. The three bells have been fitted with electric ringers, which they tested while we were up the top. Anna thinks it sounds loverly, but Sandy thinks they have a bit of work still to do on the synchronisation.

The Baptistry is a massive domed building, over 55m high, and 30m across. Interesting considering it is mainly for babies. The size was however utilised during an impromptu performance by a contralto, demonstrating the most amazing acoustics of the building.

The square is surrounded by a series of museums containing all the bits which have fallen off the buildings over the years, or have been removed as too precious to leave out in the open. A couple of hundred metres of frescos which were picked up after WWII bombing are being painstakingly conserved and restored, based on photos and etchings.

This shot is the fateful one which lost me my iPhone. Lying down on the grass, I think it slipped out of my pocket. Not really worth it huh! Unfortunately the fancy tracking system has not assisted its recovery. There has been a lot of tears and grieving over this loss, even if I have not had a functioning SIM for most of the trip.

Anyway, we finished our visit with a great morning walk around the Botanic Gardens we discovered across the road from our hostel window. An ancient tree walk, plus some nice eucalypts, acacias and a couple of banyan trees to remind us of Aus.

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