Northern Italy Road Trip Part IIAuthor: Jim and Donna C. (More Trip Reviews by Jim and Donna C.)
Date of Trip: October 2010
After breakfast I got my shower in while Jim did his packing. It's raining pretty good this morning. We got the car packed up and went to find Giovanni. She had her niece over, must be about 11 or 12 years old. While we were paying for our stay, we wanted to buy some of her honey and marmalade. Jim was busy trying to get the message across with his electronic translator...not very successfully.
I walked over and picked up what we wanted. She understood that. We had to pick on Jim a little. I got a picture of Giovanni, her niece and Jim. Off we went to our next destination. Driving down the road, Pepe was waving to us from the field.
We're now on our way to Pisa. I've always wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa. Everybody has said that we should see it, take pictures and then leave as the tower is the main thing to see in the town.
It took us about an hour to get to Pisa. Then the fun began. We drove around and around the city, first trying to find the tower, then trying to find a parking spot. I'm surprised that Lola didn't give up on us. Jim finally turned her off because all she would say is "recalculating". I was ready to give up. I just wanted out of Pisa. We thought if we got close to where we thought it might be, find a place to park, we would have better luck finding it.
We found a place to park and then had to ask a shop owner where to pay for parking as we couldn't find it. Supposedly the tower was about a 15 minute walk. We walked for some time, decided we were probably going the wrong way, turned around and entered a pedestrian area.
After walking a bit we asked another shop owner where the tower was, we were on the wrong side of the river. After crossing the river, it was about another 15 -- 20 minute walk. Success, we finally found it! Jim checked his Garmin and discovered that we were 1 mile from the car. We must have walked four or five miles to find the leaning tower of Pisa.
Like all good tourists, we took our pictures of the tower with each of us pushing it over, holding it up, etc. It was kind of fun to see some of the positions that people put themselves into. After resting on the steps of the Duomo for a while we started back to the car.
On the way Jim bought a small statue of the tower for his collection. There were several street vendors. We did buy a pottery spoon rest. We can at least get that home easily. Looks like our box to ship home from Florida is getting bigger and bigger. Finally out of Pisa and on the way to Florence.
The Tuscany area is supposed to be some of the most beautiful in Italy. So far, to me at least, it all looks the same as everywhere else we've been.
We reached Florence quickly. Florence is a huge city. There were throngs of people walking in the streets, make driving difficult. Bicycles are dodging in and out of traffic, scooters are everywhere and drivers are getting frustrated and honking horns if you wouldn't move out of their way.
Seems like motorcycles and scooters, all through Italy, have very different rules than cars. They split lanes, swerve around and through cars and always make their way to the front of the line at a red light. It was all getting very overwhelming for me very quickly. We were trying find our hotel.
After passing it a couple of times, I finally saw it down a little alcove. Of course there was no parking around the area. We found a small lot down the street, pulled in and called the hotel to find out where to park. She kept telling us to come up the reception and she could show us where to park.
She wasn't quite understanding that we weren't finding anywhere to stop to get to the reception desk. After driving around a couple more times, Jim finally found a spot near the hotel where we could park for 15 minutes. We parked and found reception. We had to use an elevator meant for two people, we barely fit in (glad we've both lost weight). The gal at the desk started giving us options for parking.
The first option was that we could unload our luggage and she could have someone park our car in the garage. It would cost us an additional 30 Euros. She never got a chance to give us the other options because we jumped at the first one. We went back down and pulled everything out of the car. A guy met us to take our keys. We gladly gave him the keys to our car...hope he was the guy from the hotel J. We were assured he was.
Our room is nice. It's a king size bed. About 20 foot ceiling. We have a TV. We're even able to close our shutters on the windows for a darker and quieter sleep, we hope. We set our luggage in the room and went down to the street to find something to eat for dinner.
Most of the people are gone, guess they don't like being out in the rain (we've had off and on showers all day). We found a place across the street. I had ravioli with pumpkin and duck while Jim had cannelloni. A guy at the table next to us was from Idaho. He's a counselor here in Italy for military families. We visited for some time.
After dinner we walked down the street doing some window shopping. Most places were closed. We did find a pottery shop that was open. I could get myself into real trouble with all the beautiful pottery. We did get out of there without buying anything.
Back to the room, I'm catching up on the log while Jim is looking for what to do while we're here. We are going to try and take the Hop-on Hop-off bus tomorrow to see what there is to see.
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