We were scheduled to do Pisa today, and set off fairly early to do so, it was the only major train ride we hadn’t prebooked in advance and so we at least had an open time frame to sort out the ride over.
Which is just as well, because I managed to get us completely lost on the way from our Airbnb to the station, bare in mind this is actually a 12 minute walk or so, we instead wound up walking down the nearby (Allegedly famous – according to Google at least) market. Grabbed some cheap sunglasses to stop half of our pictures looking like we are staring at a solar eclipse, and then proceeded to take the long scenic route to Florence Station.
The ticket system was pretty strange and caused a lot of confusion for us, the tickets sold at the booths show you all of the outbound trains for your destination and then basically ignores it all and prints out a super generic ticket which can be used at any time, no mention of the train or times on the ticket itself. Pisa is not the terminal destination of any of the trains so naturally we were running around clueless for a while, unsure which train to actually take, eventually I figured going back to the ticket machine to attempt to buy another ticket – and then taking a picture of all of the train numbers and departure times.
Train journey was maybe an hour, and unfortunately sat riding backwards in front of an arguing Arab couple who would cough without covering their mouths – the joys of second class unallocated seating, though at least we got a seat, many people were standing for the long journey.
Eventually we arrived in sunny Pisa itself, our itinery for Pisa was pretty much as expected – see the leaning Tower, take ‘that’ photo and whatever else we can spot along the way before heading back to Florence. Pisa had a more relaxed vibe to it, with wider pavements and gaps between buildings, and more sunlight as a result. Had the best gelato on the way (half coconut with chocolate and oreo, and half homemade Nutella? hell yes.) The place was called Il Gelato di toto and very much recommended if you ever go to Pisa.
The walk from the station to leaning Tower was longer than expected, and honestly, the tower itself was a little underwhelming in terms of size. I thought it was going to be like the Eiffel tower where you can see it in the distance from miles away, but maybe because of the way that the streets curve and the buildings all quite high, by the time you spot it peeking above the buildings you are basically there.
We took our pictures and then spent the rest of the time watching other people take theirs, which is honestly probably the best laugh I’ve had in ages – watching clueless middle aged men and women completely not understand the concept of how to do the photo illusion is comedy gold, some examples are an old man who looked like he was preparing to do a military press with the tower of Pisa, and a woman who was making a pose I couldn’t comprehend at all.
There are a few other attractions around the tower of Pisa, but in usual unprepared fashion with hadn’t prebooked anything – the cathedral did free tickets but on a timed schedule, and the earliest time they could let us in was at 5:30pm, about 2 hours longer than we anticipated sticking around, similarly we were too tired to walk up the tower (18EUR pp), and not particularly bothered about the other attractions which were pay on entry.
We’d unfortunately end up taking a wrong turn and walking 2 miles looking for somewhere to eat, always stick to the tourist paths people! Italy has a strange thing where many of the restaurants only open for lunch at strict hours and then close at 2:30pm or 3pm, of which we found our way back to the main strip of shops a little too late. We settled for a small cafe closer towards the station for some Pasta and then more gelato.
Seasoned experts of the Italian rail system now, our journey home was easy and much less busy than expected – for those considering travelling, the trip is about 8EUR per person, each way Firenze SMN to Pisa Centrale.
Fed up of walking for miles each day, we headed back to our Airbnb to have a little rest before dinner time, before eventually heading back out to go to a Korean fried chicken place around the corner from where we were staying – it was pretty authentic and super crispy, Cordelia had never tried it before so she enjoyed it a lot. (‘Il coco – chicken and beer’). We got to sit outside and enjoy the breeze as the sun set, with some dinnertime entertainment from the owners cute dog.
We still had some life left in us, and so off for a final walk about Florence, this time at night. I wanted to try and take some night photos of the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which was a bit of a challenge to find a good spot and not have people walk in front constantly (also hard because I don’t have a wide angle, and the cathedral is so damn big you have to be really far away to get it all in one shot with a 18mm lens). Some dessert at a nearby desserts place, where I had some sort of Pistachio giant Ferrero Rocher thing filled with cream and god knows what else, nice but very rich an a little too sweet for my tastes.
Tomorrow we catch the train to Rome.