Thursday, June 19, 2014

Europe 2010 Day 16 - Pisa & Lucca - A Day Trip

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11 October 2010

Today's day trip to Pisa includes a stopover at Lucca since my partner and I did not make plans to stay long in Pisa. In the morning, we hopped onto the 8.30am slow train from Firenze SMN to Pisa (€5.70) and reached the city in about 1 hour. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the Pisa Centrale to reach Piazza dei Miracoli -- and so we walked with a quick stop at the tourist center to grab a map, and then a cafe to grab breakfast.

Breakfast, panini and cappucino.

Quiet morning on Via Borgo Stretto.

Palazzo della Carovana (Palace of the Convoy). Formerly the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen in the mid 16th century.

Finally, we have reached the grounds of the famous leaning tower. The city was rather empty on our way here, so, the big crowd here was rather "contrasting".

Piazza dei Miracoli

The Piazza from another angle.

The campanile (bell tower), Duomo and the Camposanto Monumentale (monumental cemetery) on the right.

Tower of Pisa (La Torre di Pisa) is the bell tower for the Duomo. The height of the wall on higher floors is uneven to compensate for the tilt. It is opened to tourists for a fee.

The Pisa Baptistry of St. John.

If you look carefully, the height of the Duomo wall is uneven too!

Done snapping enough photos around the Piazza, and of course, seeing the many antics and funny poses of fellow tourists with the bell tower; we hurried back to the train station to head to the next town for the day.

Pisa Centrale. Taking the train to Lucca, 27mins away, en route to Florence.

Lucca is characterized by its Renaissance-era city walls. It was the second largest Italian city state after Venice before it was taken over by Napolean.

The walls are intact together with the moat.

One of the entrances of the walled city.

Duomo di San Martino.

The backside of Duomo di San Martino.

Under restoration.

San Michele in Foro (795 CE), built on an ancient roman forum.

Another one of them small buses.

The Guinigi Tower with trees on top. Reminds me of the Lord of the Rings.

At the top of the tower.

Panorama of Lucca from Guinigi Tower, shows the many towers in Lucca.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, noteworthy for its oval-shaped arrangement.

Panorama of Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.

Overall, the walled city of Lucca was a quiet place with few tourists and many restoration works underway. Next, we took an 1.5 hour train back to Florence. Since it was still "early", we have decided to "recce" the area around the Duomo (see the next post). At the Duomo, we have learnt that it is best to purchase the tour tickets early, which we had managed to buy at the ticketing shop in another complex. Having settled the tickets, we took the route through the Basilica di San Lorenzo on our way back to the hotel.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo where the main market district is.

There were many souvenir stalls near the main market building; beware of pickpockets!

For this special day, we had a good meal at the La Martinicca. We had tried the pistachio torte as per recommended by the patrons (also tourists) sitted next to us (according their travel book). Hmmm... not sure if the torte usually comes in bite-sized...

Tomorrow will be a long day at the museums: the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze, and the Galleria degli Uffizi.

Check back for the next post soon.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Europe 2010 Day 15 - Florence - Piazzale Michelangelo

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10 Oct 2010

The journey from Bologna Centrale to Firenze SMN took about 40 minutes on-board a high speed train. Upon arrival in Florence, my partner and I checked into our hotel which was located near Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Piazza Santa Maria Novella

Our stay was at budget hotel without lifts -- truly a challenge to lug our 20kg+ broken-bags upstairs.

The attached bathroom seems larger than the bedroom.

After a quick rest, we headed out for walk around town.

Ponte S. Trinita

View of Ponte Vecchio from Ponte S. Trinita.

Ponte Vecchio and the shops on the bridge.

Uffizi from across the river, a wedding celebration was underway on the left by the river. Next, we were making our way to the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Pity our tired legs -- more steps to climb.

There were some stalls/trucks selling trinkets or snacks at the Piazzale. Make yourself look like David here.

Panorama of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Ponte Vecchio and the other Pontes behind it.

The centerpiece of the Piazzale. We have waited for the sunset for photo op.

Palazzo Vecchio and Duomo in the evening.

Purple sky over the Duomo.

We end our night chowing down paninis and Italian beer in the hotel room; resting up for tomorrow half-a-day trip to Pisa (leaning tower), followed by a stopover at Lucca (walled city).

Check back for the next post soon.

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