Pisa! My first stop in Italy, the country I am staying in the longest this trip. London was amazing, and full of life, but my time in Italy is going to be much more relaxing and centering. Pisa was my first stop, not only because it was a cheap flight on Ryan Air from London (my first Ryan Air experience – as hectic and terrible as you have heard, but I made it here safely and so did my bags so I’m not complaining) But also because it got me close to Tuscany which is how this all started. And I never went to Pisa on my last Italian adventure, so this really was a win all around.
I got off my flight, and followed the directions of my Air BnB host, which was great after I knew where I was going. It is hard when you don’t speak the language to get anywhere quickly. So I got on the city bus and just hoped I would pass the tower as I was supposed to. That was where I was to exit and walk to her home. My backpack is rather heavy (even with one single pack, I always pack too much) so walking didn’t make me thrilled.
Finally, about 10 minutes from the airport, someone yelled “TOWER!” and although I couldn’t see it, I got off anyway. Following her directions, I walked through a little market, and there it was! The Duamo, Cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Right in front of me – and surrounded by thousands of tourists. As I walked through the crowd with my heavy bag, I knew I had to be close sine this place boosted being only a short walk from the tower. And right it was! Only about a 2-minute walk on the main square, I was buzzed into my cute room with a little balcony. Sabine, the lady who owned the place, did not live there, so I basically had a whole apartment to myself for very little money.
Since I only had one night in Pisa, I dropped my bag and off I went to get my first taste of Italian food and wine. But I soon came to realize Pisa was not the Italian hot spot I was looking for. Or better yet, I think it was the hot spot I was NOT looking for. Every place seemed extremely touristy and seemed like too many euros for what you were getting. So I did what every savvy traveler does: I got a huge slice of pizza from a street vendor, and a glass of wine from the local market, and I went and sat right in front of the tower and ate and drank. It was much more peaceful now that it was about 8 o’clock, with people still milling around, but nothing like an hour or 2 earlier when I had just arrived. It was nice to get some pictures in, sit there at sunset, and just relax. I knew I should have gone to a nicer dinner, but this was a great way to end the night. I went home early to read, and get a good night sleep.
The next morning, I woke up very early (I am a terrible sleeper, even more so on the road) and packed my bag to leave on an 11am-ish train. I needed to get to Florence so I could spend a few hours there, before heading off to Tuscany on a regional train. But first, I had a ticket to the top of the Leaning Tower. Although uneventful, I think it was worth it for 18 euros to go to the top, and see the town and its surrounding hillsides from above. I took a lot of pictures, and after about 30 minutes went back down and decided to grab my bag and head to the station. More time in Florence, and I feel like after walking around the day before and all morning, I had gotten a good feeling for Pisa. Touristy, but full of history. I liked it, but I was ready to go.
Getting the train from the station was easy, and I took the hour ride journey to Florence. I have been to Florence before, but planned to drop my bag at a bag check in the train station, and go explore a little more before my scheduled train 3 hours later. The line for the bag check was insanely long (probably 2 hours at my best guess) and it didn’t seem worth it to wait with such little time. So I trekked. I made it to the Duamo about 15 minutes away from the trains tation by foot, an insanely beautiful structure made of white marble. This place was more packed then I had ever seen, so I did what I needed to do: stopped and got a beer. It seemed logical to pay extra to sit in front and gape at this beautiful structure, since I figured this was all I would see. I talked to fellow travelers and tourists around me as I read, and although I didn’t see much more of Florence than that, I feel content with it. Was beautiful out, relaxing, and the sort of thing you don’t get to do often. Just sit and BE. I finally walked back to the train station, picked up some bread and pesto along the way, and enjoyed my lunch while I waited for my train.
Next stop: Tuscany and my workaway for an entire week on a farm outside Cortona. I just arrived last night, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys. This place is INCREDIBLE. Unlike anything I have ever seen. Until then, thank you for reading all the way through these posts! It is always so fun to write about my trips. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂