Monday, April 29, 2019

With Penelope In Pisa: The Tower

After Lucca, we drove on to Pisa and found the municipal sosta (camper-stop, aire de camping-cars, stellplatz) without much difficulty. Next morning, we walked the kilometer or so into town and the Field of Miracles. Penelope was pretty excited about seeing the Leaning Tower, and even more so on being told Grandma had procured tickets for me and P to climb it. The Tower's lean, even after years of treatment and correction, is still pretty pronounced, but P got right into line and charged right up the stairs...until it was clear Grandpa required a somewhat slower pace. The pix tell most of the story.
I don't think we'd ever driven into Pisa from the east; the road for some miles
follows the pretty-much intact Roman aquaduct

Next morning, en route to the Field of Miracles, admiring the wisteria

Leaning Tower

Ground-up view, while in line

Interior view up to the top

The climb spirals entirely inside the walls, finally emerging at the penultimate
and ultimate levels; view of nearby mountains 

The cathedral and baptistry beyond

Field of Miracles

On the penultimate level

Looking down to where Grandma is taking a photo of us


Ussie, about to summit

Well-worn stairs

Now on the summit floor

A bit of Pisa

Pretty much the spot where I photographed her mom and
aunt way back in 1989

Looking down through the oculus

Obligatory tourist shot before pizza lunch and gelato

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Stop In Lucca

Our Florence visit ended with a great family dinner Saturday night at our favorite Antico Ristoro di Cambi, devouring nearly 4kg of bifstecca fiorentina among the 5 of us. It was so good, as Rebecca said, we were too busy eating to take any pictures. Next morning, I picked up Penelope and brought her to the camper. Our plan was to have her for a week, visiting Lucca, Pisa, Padua, and Venice, while her parents toured more of Tuscany in a rental car. First stop for us, en route to Pisa, was the walled city of Lucca, which we had enjoyed on a previous visit (
Lucca wall

Penelope weighing in; she'd never seen a coin-op scale

Rorschach test: Vicki saw this as a Macbeth poster alluding
to Game of Thrones; I saw it as a Macbeth poster designed by
Jack the Dripper (Jackson Pollack)

Walking Lucca's walls, an experience we wanted P to have; the rain was not part
of the plan

Lucca lions adorning the wall

At length we got to a ramp that led us to the cathedral; note funny faces

Among the notable features of this old building are its facade columns, no two
of which are alike; it's like they were members of the column-of-the-month club

P and me at the sign of the pilgrim's maze

Beware of serpents

More funny features among the intricate carvings

"Never call me 'side-saddle sissy' again!"

Helpful toy model of Lucca in the gift shoppe; sort of a star fort

Le piogge di aprile portano i fiori di maggio

Peaking in at the dome atop an art nouveau bank (it was Sunday)

Just a few blocks on, another big church with funny columns


At last we are at the major sight for me, the Piazza Anfiteatro, a big square
where the 2nd century Roman amphitheater once stood

Inside, a market; note curvature of buildings

Attempted pano showing curvature of the universe

Lucca's other major sight, the Torre Guinigi, with its roof-
top forest


Another favorite is the Ognissanti, the church of all the saints (and also all the martyrs, known and unknown), located in the Vespucci neighborhood. It's a little out of the way and certainly not one of the biggies as Florence churches go. We go there primarily for the Vespucci thing, which is complex, and also for the Ghirlandiao Last Supper and others in the refectory. It is open for visitors only on Saturdays and Mondays and hence there are few tourists and no field trips.
From the little market across the street

The building dates from the 13th century but it was re-modeled extensively in
the 17th ("if it ain't Baroque...").

I have photographed Ghirlandiao's wonderful St. Jerome
before; this is actually a copy, as Vicki astutely noticed;
the original is undergoing restoration 

"Amerigo, the beautiful" Yes, that Vespucci

Botticelli's St. Augustine

Simonetta, the love of Botticelli's life, had married into the Vespucci clan and
is buried at Ognissanti; Botticelli is buried, as he requested, at her feet; he carried
the torch for 46 years after she died

Outside in the cloister...the 1966 flood waters got this high

Ghirlandiao's Last Supper takes up one end of the refectory and is remarkable
not least because Leonardo studied it before doing his Last Supper (which we'll
see next Saturday in Milan)

It's remarkable too because the sinopia is on an adjacent wall and one can see
some of the changes effected from the design

Other sinopias

Other frescoes

This Annunciation has always interested me--it is clearly
older than the Ghirlandiao pieces in the room; it was
Saturday morning and a volunteer docent was able to tell me
it was "anonimo" but dated 1300. Woof.