Whitefish Lake near Elgin, Ontario, Canada. Photo taken just before sunrise this morning!
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode (Ottawa), Ontario, Canada.

Where are they going next? Barbados! Arrive on October 25th!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Walled City of Lucca

With a decent weather forecast for the day, we headed off down the mountain to go to both Pisa and Lucca. We decided to take the toll road, figuring that it wouldn't be too expensive. Plus, we had a lot to see at our destinations so didn't want to waste our day driving.

When we got off the toll road after a distance of 70 kms (42 miles) and the bill was €8.30 ($12.20 CAD, $9.00 USD). Hmm. Expensive enough!

Maybe we'll take the free roads back home. After all, there are a lot more interesting things to see on the free roads...

Waiting for some business.

We had seen this in Spain as well. The working ladies just sit by the side of the road reading a book until some business comes along. Too strange.

We arrived in Pisa at about 11:00am. Found some free parking at a shopping center and walked back to the plaza where the leaning tower is located. 

Our first view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Yep, there's a definite slant!

Kevin figured he could fix it with a little push!

There. That's better.

Detail at the top.

Price to go up to the top of the tower? 

€18 ($26.50 CAD, $20 USD). Wow. It's not even that high! 

The Cathedral.

I didn't realize that the leaning tower is actually meant to be part of the cathedral. Most church towers are actually physically connected to the church itself, but not all. In fact, in the little village where we are staying the tower is not connected to the church. Interesting.

The tower was completed over a period of 200 years between 1170 and 1372. 

They started building the cathedral itself in 1063, and it was consecrated as a cathedral in 1118. That doesn't see like such a long building period. I wonder why it took so long to build the tower in comparison.

The Baptistery was completed in 1363.

It's free to go inside the cathedral, so we did that. But a lot of the interior is under renovation so none of the photos are worthwhile. They are getting the cathedral in perfect condition to be ready for the 900th anniversary in 2018!

Cathedral doors.

The cathedral complex with the leaning tower is actually located quite a distance from the old city center. But we walked over to the river just to have a look. Not bad, and worth having a look around...

Pisa and the Arno River.

Apparently the tower isn't the only crooked structure in Pisa!

Walking back to our car,

From there, it was a half hour drive to the city of Lucca (pop 87,000). We were lucky and managed to find free on street parking just outside the city wall.

Lucca reminds us very much of Alba Iulia in Romania. There is a huge walled fortification protecting the old city. In Lucca, they have turned the top part of the wall into a running, walking, cycling path. It's really nice, and appears to get used a lot. We walked around the entire 4 km top of the wall.

The path on top of the wall.

One of the walled bastions.

There are said to be over 100 religious buildings inside the wall.
Some of them dating back to the 8th century! 

Ruth, on top of the wall.Lots of spring wildflowers!

People out enjoying the day. Temperature got up to 23C (73F).

The Guinigi Tower with trees on it.

San Michele in Foro Basilica

In the streets of Lucca.

The Oval Plaza.

The Oval Plaza is so shaped because there used to be a Roman amphitheater here. The amphitheater is long gone, but the buildings built around it remain, and so they take the oval shape of the back of the amphitheater.

It was 4:00pm by the time we got back to the car. We figured we had time to take the free roads back home and save some money. But man, it was slow going. The trip computer in the car said we were averaging 47 km/h (29 mph).

I eventually had enough of the stop and go and so we got on the toll road. Cost when we exited was €4.90, so we save a couple of euros.

Yesterday evening, I booked our flights from Ottawa to Regina April 27th because we need to get back to work for May 1st. I've been watching for a flight deal on this since December, and it's just not happening. With our flight only five weeks away, prices looked like they were going to start inching higher, so I bit the bullet and bought two one way tickets for $235 CAD ($180 USD) each. Between the regulated lack of competition and the high airport taxes, flights within Canada are very expensive. To put it in perspective, that's what we paid to fly from Calgary to South Korea!

Today, we move on! We've got a two night AirBnb booked half way between here and Bergamo where we have to return the car rental on Monday morning. We're taking the scenic mountain route, and its a clear blue sky and sunshine out there!

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26 comments:

  1. I couldn't figure out what you meant by the lady sitting by the road until I clicked on the photo to enlarge it. Good grief, what a way to survive. Sad.

    Kevin...I noticed how big your guns were the first time we met you. I bet a ton of guys were so jealous of you when you straighten that building right up. lol

    Pisa is gorgeous! Boy do I have the itch to go back to Italy!

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    1. We have heard and seen "ladies of the night" on street corners in cities before but Spain and Italy are the first place we have seen girls sitting or standing at the sides of roads before and during the day. I can think of better ways a making a living!

      The people in Pisa are upset with him now because the tourists don't have a leaning tower to look at anymore! ;-)

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    2. Ruth and Kevin, I thought it was Portugal where we saw the working ladies especially near the construction sites! I do not remember seeing any iin Spain unless you saw some in another area after we left.

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    3. I think you might be correct on that Helen! The countries just seem to blend into each other but Kevin thinks perhaps we did see some in Spain, maybe it was after we dropped you off.

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  2. 900 years old. Amazing. You'd think taking that long to build the tower, they could have gotten it straight. The cathedral door was beautiful and no grafitti!

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    1. When they built the tower it was straight! after 900 years I think I might be leaning over a bit too. :-)

      The cathedral doors were beautiful, you don't see to many bronze doors and the artwork on them was amazing.

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    2. I remember learning in art history that the tower was noticed to be leaning during construction, and they tried to fix it by making the pillars taller on the side it was leaning toward. However, it made the problem worse, because it made that side heavier and it was leaning due to soil conditions... http://www.towerofpisa.org/tower-of-pisa-historical-facts/

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    3. Sarah, you are right about the tower starting to lean before it was even finished. I should have done my homework a little better before replying to Karen and Al's comment. It was only after that I realized, that it had started to lean almost from the beginning. Makes you wonder why they continued to build it after seeing this happen. Maybe that it why it took so much longer to build the tower than the cathedral itself!

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  3. Another fun day exploring and interesting sights to see.

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    1. Lots of history here to learn about and enjoy!

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  4. Beautiful buildings - artistians at work so many years ago!!

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    1. Yes, they are fantastic! We can't get over the skill that these craftsmen had and with no modern machinery or computer programs to help them. Definitely artists, is so many ways.

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  5. Not long ago, the tower of Pisa was staightened somewhat to prevent it from falling over. Lucca is still one of my faves, and I had no idea that there is a path on top of the wall... Great pictures again.

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    1. We remember watching a TV program on the work that they had to do in order to stop if from falling over. Very interesting and informative.

      I loved both the towns/cities but Lucca was certainly my favourite of the two. Too bad you missed the path, you can get some nice views of the towers from the path, it just gives you a different perspective of the "old town" being a little higher up.

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  6. Wow great to see the leaning tower of Pisa! Lovely city as well. Great you got to see so much in such a short time. I thought you guys were due back in April but May is fine. Enjoy your mountain travel and stay safe!

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    1. I think since I was a little girl, the tower is something that I had always wanted to see. Not quite sure why but I did and now I finally managed to get here to see it.

      Nope, we arrive back in Saskatchewan on April 27th but probably not back to the park itself until April 28th and start work on May 1st. Hope we will get to meet you then.

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  7. Great photos and stories. We spent a week close to Lucca so it brought back memories.

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    1. Glad that we could bring back some great memories for you. It is a lovely area around there. Actually most of Italy seems to have some beautiful areas.

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  8. I took a picture of the same crooked building in Pisa but from the side because I thought it was leaning towards the river!! To funny!!

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    1. I guess because we were walking on the other side of the river we didn't notice how much it was leaning towards the river, we just noticed that it was quite crooked!

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  9. Sad to see so many young lady's sitting waiting for business,in this day. Seen it here in Spain also.

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    1. Spain is when we first saw this activity too! We were quite surprised by it actually, it just seems a bit weird compared how things like this are done back in Canada and the USA!

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  10. Both Pisa and Lucca look like neat towns. Not sure if we will make it to that area next year or not though. Prices in Canada do suck, its part of the reason we put everything on credit cards so we have points to use for the kids to see us and for us to see family. The other day I managed to use both a westjet discount code (for a really late flight) and a credit (for a canceled flight) to get a Comox Edmonton return for $137 including tax. I was amazed they let me use both on a seat sale rate. Normally it is usually around $350 on sale with tax.

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    1. That's the problem when you don't have lots of time to visit a country, it is very hard to pick and choose between all the fantastic sights. Italy is a country, that we could easily come back to again, I feel we have hardly even touched the surface here.

      We were offered a deal with West Jet because we are members of their frequent flyers club and they were offering 25% off of a flight. Unfortunately Regina wasn't one of the cities that was included in their list of cities for this discount, which really sucks!

      Sounds like you got a great deal out of Comox to Edmonton. :-)

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  11. We were just discussing the Leaning Tower the other day when we were trying to figure out the Seven Wonders of the World. Of course there are many different lists which have been compiled over the ages but the Leaning Tower makes the Middle Ages List. The Grand Canyon however was found on the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We hope to make a stop at Cabri on our way home if we stretch our stay in Alberta out. It will be close to the end of April when we come by there. We will see what happens. Loving your tours and Safe Travels.

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    1. I have sort of lost faith in some of these "Wonders of the World". As you say they keep coming up with all these different lists. The world is a huge place and there are so many amazing places in it that it is almost impossible to only put so few on a "list"! All I know is, that we are loving the ability to get out there and see what whatever we can, whether it is on a list or not. :-)

      Hope we get to see you then at the end of April. We should definitely be at the campground by April 28th. Have a safe travel back to Canada.

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