NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

Trip Log 11.  Day 11.  Pisa Please-a.

Saturday October 23, 2010. Love the Touring Days.

This episode of Adventures in Italy with the Lewises and the Lutmans features 41 photos. Enjoy.

Good morning this Saturday. We wake up in Castello di Bibbioni and Sharon says the flannel sheets are good because they make her warm. I say they are not, or rather than mine don't feel like flannel. She feels my sheets and says that mine aren't as flannely as hers. Then she says, it's great to flannely be here.

As the sun begins to hit the mountains across the fields, we are treated to our usual morning wake-all-the-way-up call view.

We are driving the long way to San Casciano, in new territory,

and we come upon an amazing site. There are giant amphora, held way high in the air by three-legged stands. What is going on here? Jerry says that water comes up through one of the three legs to provide water to whatever's in the amphora. There are twelve amphora, one for each of the apostles, one for each of a dozen. Very curious. They remind me a little of the giants in the most recent "The Day the Earth Stood Still" movie. I estimate that the height of one of the amphora, from top to bottom, not counting the giant stands, is perhaps 7-10 feet. {We think this is an olive orchard and establishment where they press the olives for oil to sell. The amphoras are a great surprise when we come around the bend..}

We can see starlings, but they are the European aka American models, not the Spotless Starlings we are hoping for. Then we notice from the map that the Spotless aren't in Italy - only in Spain. {We also see a sign for an "Etruscan tomb", (or tumbo in Italian) but it just looks like the sign points into a farmyard. Could they actually have a tomb sight in their yard?}

I call out hawk (meaning European buzzard), because it's so large, but the Hooded Crow on a wire just looks that big. We come to San Casciano. People are walking all around. A little old lady is looking for a way to make it over a zebra crossing (white stripes on grey pavement). She puts her hand out as if to stiff-arm an American football defender and huffs her way across. Way to go, ma'am. Sharon picks up turtle doves, because they aren't as large as collared doves.

12:30 and we are in Pisa.

I am rocked back to 1978, the last and only other time I was here. Only, ya know, there's nothing quite like NOW. Here are combined photos Jerry and I took: {OMG, can you believe, we are actually looking at THE leaning tower of Pisa?}

We learn where, then we go purchase our tickets. Our time is for a 1:45 pm climb. It's now 12:46 so we have time for lunch. After discussing it, we walk back to a nice outdoor restaurant.

I'm having quarter roast potatoes, a tomato salad, and the girls are having shrimp cocktails, Jerry a vegetarian pizza with salmon. We drink a toast with our drinking mugs, but tilt each at a five degree angle, to match that of the leaning tower. Bolstered for our assault, we pay for our lunch and take off.

1:45 pm finds us in line and pulling at the bit. A few minutes ago I said I was looking "forlorn" because we had to wait a few minutes before starting our climb. Sharon says, "Haven't you found Loren yet?" {I'm such a card!}So here are a flurry of photos from our climb:

(L) Closeup of the design at the top of the first level. (R) Spikes to keep the pigeons from doing their dirty deed

(L) Pausing just before the climb. {Can you see the places in the steps where they are worn down from the thousands (millions?) of footsteps? And that is marble! folks. You can see how everyone steps on the left here because of the lean. Farther up, the steps are worn down on the right as you go around to the lean on the other side. There is also a worn spot on the wall where everyone puts their hand out to balance. You really lean here!}. (R) Romulus and Remus, from the first pausing spot.

(L) The marble, worn away from centuries of climbs.

(L) Looking down from the next-to-top stop. At bell level. (R) Jerry, by a "small" bell

(L) Me by a big bell. (R) The electronic bell ringer has put the main clapper into retirement, as well has removed the necessity for someone to climb the tower every time they want to ring the bell.

(L) Shirley and Sharon on the very top level. (R) 'T' for Tower for Two.

(L) The Pisa football (soccer) stadium R{ The round bulding in the back is the Baptistry and the feature there is that the acoustics here are so perfect and the bulding so big. that the echo comes back in 10 seconds. Every hour a guard sings here and he sings three notes in sequence and harmonizes with himself.}

(L and R) More girls on top

(L) Jerry and Bob on top. (R) The town of Pisa from the top

A guard makes the round walk on top telling us that our time is up and we should skeedaddle down, though he doesn't exactly use the English 'skeedaddle'. Probably more like, "OK, time to go down."

(L and R) Down we go

(L) Shirley too. (R) Bending back and looking at the top from near the base.

(L) Jerry has a lean and hungry look. (R) Bob is so strong that he can...

A little after 3 pm, and Jerry realizes that he has worn his vest inside out all day. He's been wearing a jacket over it, so it's of little consequence, but it's fun to think that he had labels all pointing to what's supposed to go in each pocket. Like one says passport, one says wallet, etc. We have a giggle at how careful we've been to minimize the chances of a pickpocket setting his or her eyes on any of us.

We make a final spin around the grounds. {Above right is a picture of the old walls that went around the city. Many of the old towns are "walled cities" for the days when it seems like everyone was at war with everyone else.}

(L) We get a great kick out of this fellow's Caterpillar-/-A Tractor sweat shirt, combining two of our jokes into one item of apparel. (R) The white dove, she coos. {Those bronze doors above are famous but I can't remember who made them now. You can see how everyone touches certain holy figures and polishes them over time.}


We review what else we could see around here, and decide on Livorno, since it's on the coast. We want to go to the waterfront and check out the scene there {We all want to see the Mediterranean}. Jer uses the GPS to get us there, but there's a ton of traffic going round and round this large grass area, and realize that police are preventing anyone from taking the very road we want. We don't know why, but I suggest after about the third trip around that we pick a different road, which might take us to a different part of the port. A different port part. We make that turn {after a great discussion that goes like this. Jerry says" that is a one-way street sign" But I say "But, look there is a wheelchair on it, I think you can go that way if you have a handicapped sticker" (which we do) so we decide to take the chance and go that way because we can see it would lead to the marina.}, but again a policeman won't let us past. He comes to our window, and tells me in Italian to U-turn and get out of here. I say "port", point, and say we want to go there. After several attempts at each trying to communicate to the other, the fine officer finally says, in beautiful Italian accented English, as he wags his finger back and forth, "No Pos-ee-bull," where Pos rhymes with 'dose', as in 'medicine.'

OK, that's enough. Somebody don't want us in Livorno, and we hightail it outa there. Jerry calls our attention to a decal on the back of a van. It's a witch on a broomstick, going straight up, and it says, "Wife on Board." Shirley boos.

Later we learn that the protest was a demonstration against raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. The kids realize that if that happens, they will have to work 2 years longer in their lives making it {of course, if you are in your twenties} unacceptable.

As we pass the turnoff to the Tower Town again, we consider going there to say goodbye, but we are leaning against it.

Jerry today figured out that we could plug the Garmin GPS into the ash tray receptacle, and my iPhone into the back seat receptacle at the same time to run on the car's power, so we do that for the last couple of hours drive.

And finally it's back to the ol' thing that a man's home is his...

We celebrate with dinner and some Rummikube, card-style, till we can't stand it, so in we Turin.

See ya'. Wouldn't wanna be ya'. Cause then we wouldn't be HERE.

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