Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pisa without the Tower

Huge yachts line the quay in Imperia

Eating lunch in the sun was a real treat in late October
Our last morning in France we were all up early as we had to pack up and clean the house before driving to Italy. It was a 6 hour drive down the coast on the Toll Highway. In France the speed limits are consistent and most people obey them (130 kilometers an hour) but once we crossed into Italy they were all over the place and so were the other drivers. It was exhausting. Despite not planning to meet up, our two cars managed to do so every time. Without coordinating for example we both pulled off the highway for lunch at the same spot, in Imperia. We walked down by the port admiring the many yachts on the quay. Scott and I stayed to have a lovely lunch at Matama Braceria by the water.
Our tiny cabin at Camp Darby - this couch was Walt's bed
as well.

Our last dinner out in Terrenia with Brenda and John.
They left the next morning to visit with John's daughter.
Walt is a retired military officer so we were able to rent cabins on bases in Pisa (Sea Pines Recreational Facility, Camp Darby) and Naples (Admiral Robert Carney Park) for a very low rate. The first place was really in Terrenia, between Pisa and Liguria and didn't have a kitchen, but we were able to fix a few things in the evening picnic style as they had a small frig. In the morning we got our cappuchinos out of a vending machine and they weren't bad, before going to the snack bar for breakfast. It was really interesting to live in a military facility - a first for us. Everyone was very nice.

Pisa is a very lovely city. It spreads out along the junction of the Arno and Sercio Rivers and was referred to as an old city by ancient Roman authors. The University has been around since the 12th Century and the town bustles with activity. We found a huge market strung out along the river one day with every thing anyone could want to buy, for sale.
We really enjoyed wandering about the city and marveling at the beautiful architecture. We started out one day to see the Picasso drawings at the Palazzo Blu and got waylaid by the Museo della Grafica (Museum of Graphic Arts). THey had two interesting exhibits - "Drawings and Etchings from Corot to Matisse" and "Southeast Synopsis - photos by Andrea Pistolesi. Both were excellent. These are both "minor" museums in Pisa but really worth visits.
The tower of the Cittadella looming over this
peaceful street

This fun building was in the Piazza dei Cavalieri
We ended up spending two days in Pisa and could have spent more. We kept coming upon another beautiful church or square all over the city and there are lots of pretty cafes with outside seating away from the Piazza Del Duomo with reasonable prices. And sitting in a cafe with a view of the Tower with a cup of cappuchino or a glass of wine is well worth the price. I'll cover that lovely spot in my next entry.
San Paolo a Ripa d"Arno Church

When we came back the second day the whole length
of this river street was filled with stalls 

I have a fascination for doorways and glimpses of
"another world"

These "flying buttresses" are common

This Boulangerie was in a trailer at the market

The fourth scarf I bought on the trip -
everyone wears scarfs in Europe

This gentleman had to be called out of the local bar to
cut our proscuitto and not surprisingly, it was rather
thick and rough

The beautiful small Santa Maria della Spina church
perched on the bank of the River Arno

A back and side view of Santa Maria - a real wedding
cake of a church

Palazzo della Carovana in the Piazza dei Cavalieri

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