Saturday, June 9, 2007

Leaning Tower of Pizza and Olive Garden Inspiration

Pisa and Florence

Ok, this is why you come to Italy, to see the leaning tower of Pizza………No No Pisa. Come on, you’ve all made that joke as a kid, admit it.

Today we decided to be risk takers. In spite of all the ship's warnings about the unreliable Italian trains, we took the risk and took the train to Florence. It’s an 1 hour 45 minute train ride from the port of Livorno, but weighing the $600 for the 3 of us for the ship's tour, we decide we’d spend the money we are saving on a flight to Monaco if we miss the ship. We’ve done every port on our own and saved huge piles of money. I say the ship's tours are for people with more money than brains and time to do the research. We were told that 85% percent of cruisers take the ships tours. That seems high, but I guess that’s ok by me if they are making oodles of money off them and not me. We caught a cab to Pisa, had him wait 5 minutes to get pictures and then had him take us to the train station. We got right aboard the train to Florence. Pretty countryside, it looks like Napa Valley. Once at the Florence train station we stopped at the obligatory Mc Donald’s to stuff Alex with enough chicken nuggets to sustain him through the day. This is the city of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Their stamp is everywhere and of course that medieval Kennedy clan the Medici’s, they had a hand in the city as well. The Duomo or the cathedral they built amazing. The size and intricate multi colored marble work that covers the entire structure is not possible to grasp in photos. It is right in the heart of a crowded city, so getting any distance or perspective to take a decent photo is difficult. This is the city where Michelangelo’s David lives. The shopkeepers who cater to the tourist trade have a good time putting his nasty bits on anything, aprons, teeshirts and underwear. This is very embarrassing to an 11 year old. I offered to buy Alex the underwear at every corner, but he wouldn’t take me up on it.

The best part of the day was the trip to the Cathedral Santa Croce. Inside Bad Bad Leroy Brown is buried, no...... but they do have Galileo and Michelangelo entombed there. Some serious brain power there.

We walked our legs off in this city and made it back to the train station, just in time to catch the 2:30 train, on time and back to the ship without a hitch.

After spending 5 total days in very different parts of Italy, you walk away with an understanding of how even today, Italy is held together by only a political system. This isn’t something that was apparent to be prior to going there. As a country, Italy is younger than the United States (1871). Still today everyone who lives seems to truly identify themselves by the region they live in and not their country. I don’t think even Texans have this level of regional loyalty.


Alex strikes again.....

Alex Florence and Pisa

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