Day 4: Sun-drenched Livorno and Pisa – minus the “sun” part

10/14

Well, today turned out…wet. However, I have to look at it like this: not everyone gets flooded out of Pisa.

We knew we were in for rain today, but what transpired would have made Noah grab his tools and start hammering.

Started out well enough. It was cloudy, but the temperature was pretty decent. We got up at 7am, had breakfast, and were in with everyone else at the staging point (Stardust Theater).

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Before that, however, we went up to the top deck to survey the lay of the land. Kind of uninspiring really–a cargo terminal, lots of cranes (one right beside the ship with a block-and-tackle the size of a VW Bug), and a few huge, steaming piles of wood shavings. This last made me think–I hope Daughter Dearest is remembering to clean out the cat’s box…

There’s a ferry line here that somehow got a license to use the Looney Tunes characters; they have huge pictures of Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, and Tweety painted on their sides.

IMG_20151014_0803536_rewindThere are portholes across Daffy’s beak, which led Hubby to observe that “it must be wabbit season.” Aficionados of Bugs Bunny cartoons would definitely get that.

duck season

We all trooped out and boarded our buses. These would get us to whatever tours were being taken that day. Ours was bound for a trolley that would drive us to Pisa. First thing we noticed on the bus was that the toilet was located at the middle–beside the steps that led out. It was only slightly larger than a very big suitcase, I kid you not. Plus there was a TV monitor above it. (For videos, I’m sure…???). No way was I going to use that. I’d bust, or find a convenient tree during a stop, before that happened.

Anyway–

Getting off the bus to get to the trolley was a lesson in ignoring people. This came in handy throughout our vacation. The people in question were the parking-lot trinket peddlers, who pushed in and thrust umbrellas, rain ponchos, tour books, and what-have-you in our faces as we tried to make our way across the parking lot. They were clinging to the bus like remora eels practically before it stopped.

It didn’t take long to get to Pisa, once we got past the phalanx of vendors (by the way, we were told that they were there illegally). The trolley got us to Miracle Square, which is where the Tower and the Duomo and all are located. It is a LOT smaller than I’d imagined–the square footage, not the buildings. The space between the outer walls and the Tower is maybe a tenth of a mile (metric people, you’re on your own–sorry).

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As our guide was telling us some of the history, we could hear thunder rumbling overhead. I saw lightning just the one time–but lots of thunder. The guide gave us a short tour, showed us the restaurant where we were to meet up at 11:50am (yes, it was a very short visit), and left us to go explore on our own.

We wandered in haste as the rain started, wanting to get in as much of the place as we could before we lost the weather entirely. Talk about speed-touristing!

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Of course, everywhere we went people were doing the ol’ “pushing over the tower” schtick. It was funny to see them in weird positions while they were having their picture taken.

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Of course, we had to do it too…

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I decided to do something different–didn’t come out as well as I would have liked:

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It wasn’t long before the clouds let loose, in such amounts that it made even us Oregonians seek shelter. Many of the people we came with darted right back to the meet-up spot; at least it was dry, and there was the chance of getting something warm to drink–if the overbusy waiter’s attention could be caught.

Paul and I were soon joined at our table by a man who was maybe ten years older than us; he’d fallen on the steps of the church, so we were only too glad to let him sit down. He was friendly and rather entertaining; however, his hearing wasn’t that great. Meh, neither is mine, so…

The rain continued to come down in buckets:

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But we had to catch that trolley! The drivers are part of another company, separate from the tour trade, so we had to go by their time.

In the short distance from the restaurant to the trolley, we all got drenched. It felt really good to get back to the ship and change clothes.Now we have wet stuff hanging all over our cabin.

After lunch, we decided to take our chances and go into Livorno proper by way of the shuttle bus. It was a short ride, and the bus dropped us off in the middle of things.

Livorno is quite literally as old as the hills–or almost. It’s that history that interests me most; wherever I could (throughout the entire vacation), I passed a hand over ancient structures–especially where the original masonry was exposed. Just trying to get a feel for that past age.

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New World, you know nothing of “old”. There is nothing in the Americas (of European construct) that can be dated before the 1600s. I make exception for the ruins of past Native American/Mayan/Incan civilizations. However, the buildings and environs of Livorno are intact and still being used. That is the difference. There are structures here that can be dated to a three-digit year.

I finally had my glass of wine in Tuscany (bucket list)–granted, it wasn’t with a sunset view or under a grape arbor, but I’ll take this as a stop-gap check-off.

Our rallying cry – Hubby’s and mine – was “We’ll be back in a couple of years, and try again”. I can live with that.

Now I’m happily ensconced in the library once again, while Hubby watches something on TV in our room. This was certainly a day to remember!

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Another night, another addition to our towel-animal zoo!

Tomorrow–Civitavecchia and Rome

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