Friday, April 6, 2012

Florence & Pisa, Italy

We arrived in Florence around 11am and headed straight to the hotel to drop our bags off.  The train station in Florence is in a great location and you can access pretty much anything from that point. It was a small, family run place that had three rooms with a shared bathroom. It was interesting, but very clean and well secured. We dropped out stuff and ran out to check out some of Florence before heading to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We started with a large church across the street from the train station. Ida's mother had told her that at 12 o'clock noon, the sun shines through a small circular window high on the west end of the church and puts a ray of light right in the center of the church. It's supposed to be beautiful. The church was gorgeous, minus the screaming children inside, but there was no sub spectacle. Regardless, it was another beautiful cathedral in Europe.

We then jumped on the hop-on/hop-off bus that toured us around the city. They had two routes you could take, each of which took a couple of hours. We joined the first route, the sun was hot, but we were able to see many of the major sights in Florence.

From there we headed back to the train station to go to Pisa. The ride was about an hour long, and we took a city bus from there. The square where the tower was located was a madhouse! There were people everywhere taking pictures and just standing in the middle of the sidewalk. (I wish that there was one tourist place in the world, where people would step aside to take pictures and do their staring...people always stop where ever they feel like and never think about those around common sense anymore!) The Leaning Tower was smaller than what I had expected, but amazing all the same. You could see people making the trek to the top, hugging the wall as they walked in circles. We took lots of pictures and then stopped at a local eatery to have some pizza. The food was good and I always find it amazing to sit at a sidewalk cafe with such beautiful sights in the background. All of the old buildings and castles and cathedrals, places you would never find in the US.

It was now time to head back to Florence. We took the hour long train ride back and decided that we were going to grab the bus back to the sights of Florence and ride it to the top of the hill that overlooks the city. By the time we got up there, the sun was starting to set and we were able to grab some amazing pictures. Florence is a place where you need a few days to really explore all of what it has to offer. We simply didn't have the time, but we were able to get an overview of what was there for when we could get back.

 I would suggest Florence as a stop for anyone headed to the Tuscany region in Italy. Give yourself at least three days to get the major sights in, a week if you want to dive in deep.

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