6. Livorno and Pisa
In the morning, after some pretty rough seas, we docked in the industrial port city of Livorno, also called Leghorn. After a leisurely breakfast, we got on yet another bus which took us through the countryside to Pisa, home of a university, a big church, and, oh yeah, some kind of leaning tower.
The city government won't let buses into the medieval section of town, so we went from the tour bus onto an Italian shuttle bus. There was some kind of mixup, so the people on the third bus from the ship had to wait in the sun. Luckily, we were on the second bus. The shuttle had few seats, so people had to stand. It was a little rough on elderly tourists, some of whom had trouble standing on flat ground. Chris was about to say something to a few younger tourists who wouldn't move their lazy asses out of a seat for the older folk, but Linda steered him away before hostilities began.
The tourist section of the town is concentrated on one large square that includes the Bapistry, the Duomo or cathedral, and the famous Tower, which was constructed as the bell tower for the church. The tour guide explained how scientists and engineers were trying to stop the tower's movement. He pointed out that nobody wanted them to straighten it; everyone would be out of a job! Besides, the tower started leaning during construction, and the builders tried to correct the lean by making some levels higher on one side. The tower is actually shaped like a banana.
Next we toured the Duomo, and saw Galileo's lamp. It's a big chandelier that Galileo once saw swinging back and forth, inspiring him to formulate the Law of Pendulums. Chris thought it was pretty cool and spent some time trying to get a good picture of it in the darkness. One came out pretty well. The church too is leaning by a few degrees. It's just not a good place to build stuff.
Since unbaptised children couldn't enter the cathedral, the Bapistry was built to give the priests a place to baptise them. It is a round building which became a focal point of celebration to the medieval Pisans. At one point while we were inside, the guards closed the doors. Our guide shooshed us as one of the guards came to the middle of the bapistry and started singing. The perfect acoustics caused a wonderful echoing sound to permeate the building. Later the same guard sang with a teenage German tourist from another group. It was really neat. We returned to the ship and relaxed the rest of the day.
The next morning, we learned that bad weather was going to stop us from going to our next scheduled port, Portafino. The ship would spend the rest of the day in Livorno, and then head for Cannes in the evening, as scheduled. We spent the day having fun on the ship, playing ping-pong, using the jacuzzis, reading and snoozing.
Next: Cannes and Monte Carlo
Previous: The Crown Odyssey
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