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Tuscany, Florence and Pisa – October 2-12, 2014

We rented a car for our remaining time in Italy. The plan was to rent an apartment and tour around Florence and area, then head to Pisa for a few days before heading back to Rome to catch our flight to Greece.  Well…   at least that was the original plan.  But when we got to our lodging snuggled in the hills of Tuscany we knew immediately that this  would be a perfect place to put our feet up and enjoy some quiet time.  From the moment we walked in, it felt like home.  It was a spacious large two story home (an old stone farmhouse turned guest house) with two bedrooms with bright windows overlooking the yard; a large well equipped kitchen and dining area and table; a comfy country style living room with an old wood fireplace (that we didn’t get to use!).  We fantasized about how incredible it would be to live there full time.  It had a true Tuscan flare, that we just loved.

We spent the next week having races in the pool, playing badminton, foosball and feeding the miniature horse and donkey that lived there.  We ventured out very little, often only for groceries and the odd time to visit the neighboring towns.  There was really no need to leave such beautiful surroundings.

It was difficult packing to leave our cozy two story guest house, but Pisa was waiting. We drove towards Pisa and on the way, spent the day in Florence before arriving at our apartment near Pisa.  Florence definitely deserved more of our time than the 6 or so hours we were there.  We had such a short time, but were able to squeeze in seeing the Cathedral Di Santa Maria del Fiore, which was just beautiful, walking through the streets and dodging tour groups everywhere, and looking at the leather purses and art.  We had lunch in the Piazza Della Signoria.  It was so fun to be sitting in a little café eating your pizza and be surrounded by beautiful and famous sculptures; like the Fountain of Neptune.

Before we knew it it was time to make our way to Pisa as our host was waiting for us. It took us a while to find our apartment, but we knew we were at the right place when we saw a welcome sign in the parking lot.

welcome pic in pisa

Our little one bedroom apartment was right on the Tyrrhenian Sea, a perfect place. We only had two days in Pisa and one of those days was learning how the make pasta.  The other day was spent in Pisa itself.

The day we spent in Pisa, a city of about 90,000, was solely to see the Leaning  Tower.  We booked our tickets for the Leaning Tower of Pisa online hoping to make things easier.  We arrived in Pisa after about 20 minutes of driving and spent another 30 minutes looking for a parking spot.  Finally finding one about 8 blocks away we made our way through the gates running toward the tower fearful we would miss our scheduled time up the tower.  Making it in time, we found out they do not allow backpacks or purses in the tower, so we went to put them in storage and ran back to get in line.  We waited only a few minutes and it was our turn.  We entered the tower doors and started making our way up the 296 worn and winding steps leaning left then right, then left again then right until we finally reached the top.  We did stop a few times to catch our breath and rebalance ourselves before making it to the top. Once on top we were about to walk the circumference of the tower, but we were rushed the entire time.  Noah and Len did manage to get around the top for photos and a panoramic view.  There are only a certain number of people allowed in the tower at a time and they book entrances every 15 minutes  so you have to be quick to take the pictures when you can.  There is no lingering allowed.

Thoughts on the Tower: It is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.  I was a bit disappointed in just how small it was.  For the money we paid, for the few minutes it took to climb the stairs and have a view of the courtyard, it was too costly. I am glad we did it, but there was not much else to do once you have been up the tower and walked through the Cathedral di Pisa.  It is easily a day trip out of Florence so I would recommend staying in Florence and taking a bus to Pisa for the day.

We returned to our apartment early so we could enjoy playing on the beach before having to pack and get ready to return to Rome for another night before flying to Greece.