Looking back at Pisa

First of all I should note that I’m writing this about a week after we came back from Pisa – indeed it’s during the break between Q2 and Q3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Looking back though we really had a fantastic time in Pisa, and in London too on that trip actually. The trip first to London, a slightly over-familiar (but still lovely) Club cabin service on the BA flight, was great as ever. We kept our day chilled so had a bite to eat and settled down at the Sofitel in the airport. Then another lovely club service down to Pisa.

Actually our trip started sooner than that. We only had small cases so thought it would be a giggle to get the bus up to the airport. It was very hot but otherwise it was an excellent start.

OK, Pisa then. Our booked transfer picked us up right at the arrivals door, and took us right to the hotel. All in absolutely baking temperatures. The taxi ride taught us two things. One, our weak grasp of Italian was going to be tested as if someone who visits an airport as often as a taxi driver doesn’t have more than a vague understanding of what we’re on about then how will anyone else do. And two, Pisa is not a shiny clean modern city, like London. Indeed at times the dry, crumbling, brown buildings reminded me more of Egypt.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the town but you learn it’s limits quickly. There was one main shopping street across the river Arno from our hotel, but other than that old fashioned buildings and architecture was the way. I said on more than one occasion that the town just needs a damn good clean but that’s probably a tad harsh.

We did loads of walking in our two days – one time following a route (badly) mapped out in a book we’d bought, one time on a scheduled walking tour which ended at the Leaning Tower, and several times just having a wonder.  Our hotel really was in the loveliest location – overlooking the river and in walking distance of everything you’d want. I guess one downside is that there’s really not much to Pisa – monuments aside. The river location was great, a park at one end of the town was lovely. The people were fab, including those in our hotel who had perfect English and had to see a lot of us because of problems with the air conditioning in our room, and everyone who lived with our just-about-passable efforts at Italian.

I think it was best put by someone I overheard in Pisa. If it didn’t have the Tower no one would be there. They’re probably right. I loved our time there but if we’d had another day we’d have probably got the train to Florence rather than staying in Pisa.

However, walking up the Leaning Tower is really quite an experience. You climb it in what seems like no time at all but the view from the top is well worth it. You see things you never knew were there like this football stadium that seems so close but was presumably miles away. That visit really was amazing.

But it was essentially as relaxed a couple of days as the heat would allow us to have. The beautiful roof terrace on top of our hotel made a fab backdrop to a lovely day and a glass of wine.

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