Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day of Towers

Day 91

The alarm went off early again, but this time I knew that there could be no laying about. I took a shower and got my act together quickly. Once again, I headed off to the train station across a just rising Florence. I was headed to San Gimignano, a hill town in Tuscany.

During the middle ages men were unable to buy big cars. So instead, they built big towers in San Gimignano. At one point there were about 70 towers, now only 14 remain.

While I was in Poggibansi (what kind of name is that) waiting for the bus to San Gimignano I met two Hawaiians. They thought that I knew where I was going and asked if they were waiting for the right bus. I did know where I was going and told them. They asked if I lived there. I said no. I guess that some things are just becoming second nature to me.

The bus ride was really quite wonderful and I took several pictures out of the window. When we got to San Gimignano the Hawaiians and I decided to stick together. We headed straight to the Torre Grossa, the biggest tower. On the way up we passed through a small museum of medieval church art. The climb up wasn't nearly as bad I had thought it would be. The view was fantastic and it was nice to have people to take pictures of me.

After we had seen all we could see from the tower we wandered further down the main, and only slightly large street in San Gimignano. When we got to the end we had to part ways. They were headed to Siena and I had bought a ticket that included a couple other museums in the town.

I took my time checking out the archeology and art museums. Still, it didn't take long. The best part was a different view of the town. I then meandered back towards the bus stop. I contemplated visiting the torture museum but decided against it. I have been to so many of those and they are all pretty much the same. I did manage to pick up some lunch though.

When I had made it back to the bus stop I was surprised to see that the Hawaiians were still waiting for the bus. The ride was once again enjoyable as we took a slightly different route. We said our goodbyes again on the bus as they had to run for the next train.

I on the other hand had about 30 minutes to kill. When I got back to Florence I quickly checked the time and was just able to make the next train by two minutes. From the time I decided to spend this much time in Florence I have known that I wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa. The thing is that I wasn't about to spend an entire day seeing it. There are so many leaning towers all over Europe, I can't really justify visiting a city just because of one. I also couldn't see what the big deal was. However, with my Eurail and a free afternoon I could come up with no reason not to visit it.

Pisa was dirty, much dirtier than Florence or the other cities I had been in in the last few days. I couldn't see why people came here. Eventually I ended up where all the medieval buildings are. I will confess, the tower is pretty impressive. Not just because it is leaning, but because the architecture and decoration is interesting. It is also surrounded by a bunch of buildings that are around the same age. It was like a park. I didn't have plans to go into any of the buildings (as far as I could tell from my research the outside was the best part), so I simply snapped a few photos. Before I left I made sure to get the cheesy tourists shot required of everyone.

The ride back was only an hour but it seemed long. I was pretty exhausted at this point. Still, I spent some time checking my email before heading back to the campsite. I wasn't feeling very outgoing and simply spent the evening reading in my tent before calling it an early night.

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