The morning prior to our afternoon in Firenze, we made a pit stop in Pisa. This was part of an excursion offered through the cruise ship. You have to sift through the corn maze of itineraries available for you… and your budget… and choose wisely. By buying an excursion, you have all but guaranteed not getting ripped off by a cab, kidnapped, bamboozled, canoodled, or, later in the day, running towards a departing cruise ship crying out like C-3PO to a sandcrawler on Tatooine (‘OVER HEEEERE!’). The best show, and most attended show, the twelve days on that cruise ship was watching four people do just that at the Port of Salerno about eight days after this one.
For all of the guarantees mentioned above, please add at least $43.57, per person, to the cost of the excursion.
You work with themed attractions long enough and you see the well-oiled machine at play. These excursions are cruise-line Disney rides (this was not a Disney cruise ship, however). Only thing missing are the moving walkways and an automated voice calling ‘step out to your right please… when the car stops, step out to your right.’
With that, the goal in Pisa is clear: get your picture with the Leaning Tower of Tourism and we’ll be on our way to Florence. We parked about 15 minutes from the site as our guide informed us that the vendors selling sunglasses would give the high sign if it was prime pickpocketing hour. The Lesson? If someone identifies themselves to you as a student, hold on to your valuables and kick the student in theirs.
There would be no high sign today.
Was I excited to see the Leaning Tower of Tourism (il Campanile)? Of course I was! It’s an architectural marvel! And it was very, very cool to see it in person and take a picture beside it. And, no, I chose not to do the traditional ‘take a picture like you’re keeping the tower from falling over’ portrait… It hurts whatever part of my brain houses proportional realism.
All that being said… Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the limestone-flesh was like unto seeing all the pictures and video images of it over the years via the side view mirror of an automobile. Yes, it does reside in il campo dei miracoli, piazza del miracoli, the Field of Miracles, but this name is like Valentine’s Day to romantically jaded Americans – a 20th century term to drive business up.
The Leaning Tower is in ‘Piazza del Duomo’ (Cathedral Square). It has a beautiful Baptistery and what I’m sure is equally spectacular with Campo Santo, but I didn’t want to start my day meandering in a cemetery if no one I knew was entombed, buried, or laid to rest in some other fashion there… and pay for it to boot (no shape of Italy pun intended).
If you have an hour and you’re traveling through Tuscany, you have to stop there and take it in . Then, you can say you did it and never have to do it again. The fortress like surroundings allows you to be immersed in and with these structures. You won’t regret it and, at the same time, feel like you’ve been gypped.
Thus ends il blog del bipolar.
(pictured above: looking up at the Leaning Tower of Tourism)