Sunday, December 18, 2016


A bit of a sleep in this morning,  the wake up call didn't come until 7am. 
An hour makes a big difference.  We must be getting tired as the calls are now waking me now, not like when we first started this tour and would be awake before the wake up call.

It was down for breakfast and then board the chariot (our bus).  We were spending today in the Tuscan hills and Pisa.

 Our first stop today was a look out overlooking Florence.  We drove up to the Michelangelo Lookout which offered us panoramic views of Florence.  The views were fantastic especially on a cloudless day like today.  Up at the lookout we found another life size statue of "David" only this one was made out of bronze.  Michelangelo really loved this part of Florence and spent a lot of his time up here hence them naming the Lookout after him.

Bronze statue of "David" at Michelangelo Lookout in Florence
 From here we took the scenic country roads through the Tuscan Hills where we saw lots of olive groves, vineyards and fields of yellow sunflowers to a Medieval town called San Gimignano.
  I LOVED this town.  What a treasure find this place was.  It is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany.  It has always been known as the Town of Fine Towers and is famous for it's medieval architecture and unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses which with its hilltop setting and encircling walls forms an "unforgettable skyline".

 Within its walls, the well preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture.  The Historic Centre of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The town is also known for Saffron and white wine.

After doing a bit of a walk around with Gary, we had about an hour and a quarter of free time to enjoy this gorgeous spot.  Steve climbed one of the hills to get a view of the surrounding district, whilst I did a bit of a look around the shops....
 Today we blew our budget,  I ended up buy 5 beautiful leather handbags, one each for the girls as well as a small and large handbag for myself.  (Loving my smaller handbag and wishing now I would have bought a couple of extra ones in different colours) We bought Peter a really good bottle of Tuscan Red Wine making sure it had a picture of the big black rooster on the front (The symbol of excellent wine from San Gimignano)  We also managed to find a bottle of "Argean Oil" for Danielle for her birthday.
 It was a bit of a race to get back to our meeting place before we ran out of time but we weren't the last as Peter and Cora pulled in just after us.   I loved this little Medieval hilltop village and really could have spent a whole day here.
 Once we were all loaded onto the bus we headed off to Pisa, a good hour's drive away.  Again we traveled on beautiful Tuscan countryside roads and the scenery really was quite spectacular.   We arrived at Pisa around 1pm and by the time we got off the bus and caught a choo choo train to take us to just outside the main entrance to the "Piazza dei Miracoli" (Square of Miracles). 
 It is formally known as "Piazza del Duomo ( Cathedral Square).  It is recognized as an importance centre of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world.

 The square is dominated by 4 great religious edificies
  • The Pisa Cathedral
  • The Pisa Baptistery
  • The Companile
  • Composanto Manurmental
The construction of this Cathedral began in 1064 by the architect Buscheto.  The mosaics of the interior as well as the pointed arches show a strong Byzantine influence.  The interior is faced with black and white marble and has a gilded ceiling and a frescoed dome.  It was largely redecorated after a fire in 1595 which destroyed most of the Renaissance art work.  We had little time to sander on our own and just explore,  something I would have really loved doing.

 We all lined up at the Japanese corner (where everyone goes to line up and have photo taken as if they were holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

 You cannot begin to understand the massive lean until you have seen it for yourself.  It was pretty hot here so we stopped for a drink and toilet stop before meeting our guide Roberta to learn more abour the leaning tower and the church and baptistery.

The leaning tower of Pisa is a campanile or free standing bell tower of the Cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa.  The tower began tilting during construction and this was caused by an inadequate foundation or the ground too soft on one side to property support the structures weight.  The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was complete and gradually increased until the structure was  stabilized and the tilt partially corrected by efforts in the late 20th and 21th century.

The height of the tower is 55.86 metres from the ground on the low side and 56.69 metres on the high side.  Prior  to restoration work performed in 1990 and 2001, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but the Tower now leans with about 3.99 degrees.

The tower has 296 or 294 steps.  The seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north facing staircase.

We had the perfect day to explore this marvelous square.  Our tour finished around 3pm  and we had half an hour to explore or shop and then make our way back to where the choo choo train was to pick us up and deliver us back to the bus. 
 We still had to walk 300-400 metres  past all the vendors selling all sorts of cheap rubbish, fridge magnets, puppets, scarves, handbags, mugs, cups, lamps etc.  These guys were pretty insistent in trying to sell you stuff.

Our bus took us straight back to our hotel, not so much the scenic route this time but straight down the Autoban.  We did pass through an area with lots of nurseries, kms of them, not only were plants in pots but a lot were growing in the soil as well.

 We got back to our hotel just after 5pm which actually gave us 2 hours before we had to meet in the bar area for drinks before dinner.  Insight hosted some cocktail drinks for us plus some nibbles.  We have been fortunate to have traveled with such a great group of people, similar ages to us, but from diverse backgrounds.  We are really starting to relax together and have a good time.  Lots of fun and laughter.

We had a lovely 3 course meal at the hotel for dinner.  No one was in a hurry to call it a night and it was after 10.30pm before people started to break up and go their own way.


  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP