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Tuscany; Pisa

Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tuscany was another place we missed on the 2013 shortened cruise. Over the years, I have heard and read that two of the most magical places for photographers are Provence and Tuscany. Unfortunately, the motif of a cruise is short glimpses of the ports of call, and true to expectations, we got a tantalizing taste of the countryside in both places. Not really long enough to immerse ourselves, but enough to beckon us to come back someday.

Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The “tourist” highlights of Tuscany, of course, are Pisa and Florence. Pisa is best known for its famous “Leaning Tower.” My research reveals that there is much more to Pisa than the tower. In addition to housing the University of Pisa, there are numerous medieval buildings including churches and palaces, and several bridges over the River Arno, which (as in many cities) bisects Pisa.

Duomo Facade Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Duomo Facade
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

With only a day tour, there was much to see in Tuscany, and regrettably, we only had time scheduled to see the Tower and its grounds, located at the north end of the old town center, known as Piazza dei Miracoli (a/k/a Piazza del Duomo), or “Square of Miracles.” As is the historical norm for European cities, the central feature of the Piazza is the Duomo (Cathedral). The “Leaning Tower” is actually the bell tower for the Duomo.Lean

Bell Tower Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Bell Tower
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the tower, but was pleasantly surprised. Its presence is much more dramatic in person than any of the photos or paintings I had previously seen. Although I can report that the tower, a structure separate from the Duomo, does indeed lean, we are assured that they have shored up the foundation in such a way that it won’t lean anymore.

Duomo Interior Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Duomo Interior
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

But the other buildings in the Piazza, including the Duomo and the Pisa Baptistry (said to be the largest baptistery in Italy), are equally impressive. Like many such monumental works in Europe, this collection of buildings was built over a span of 100’s of years, beginning sometime in the 1100’s.

Duomo Interior Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Duomo Interior
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The old city was, like many Medieval towns, walled.  You can see the remaining structure walls around parts of the Piazza.

Walls of Old City Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Walls of Old City
Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The building interiors are also remarkable. I always marvel at how the Italian worked with the beautiful Italian Marble, along with gold and pigments to create colorful art.

Pisa, Italy Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pisa, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

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