120512 Florence – Pisa 12 May Sunday

Everyone is thankful that today we get to sleep in an hour.  Our walking tour to the Duomo starts at 9:00am.  The Duomo is the city’s religious hub for tourists.  Officially called Santa Maria del Fiore (St Mary of the Flower), the green, cream and pink marble-clad confection was intended by proud Florentines as a cathedral to end all cathedrals – to hold 20,000.  The dome is 42 m in diameter, surpassing both the Pantheon and St Peter’s in Rome.

Florence has 64 museums but we are to visit but one, the Galleria dell’ Accademia.  This is just a short walk from the Duomo and is the ‘home’ of David.

David is one of the most well known sculptures of Michelangelo.  He sculptured this when he was only 25.  The sculpture depicts the “David”, of David & Goliath fame, with sling across his shoulder ready to let fly to kill Goliath.  Interestingly, it is carved from a slab of marble, which had been set aside as weak and insecure.  Michelangelo found it and ‘boarded’ it up for 2 and half years while he went to work to create a lifelike image of David.

After a rushed sandwich for lunch, we walk to our bus and drive to Pisa 90 minutes away.  Allow me to quote the history of Pisa.  “Fame came to Pisa because of an engineering error.  For centuries, visitors have flocked to Pisa to see its architectural oddity, the Leaning Tower. When Bonnano and Tedischo designed the cylindrical campanile in 1172, they planned a ground floor, six storys of open loggia and the bell chamber.  But by the time they got to the third cornice, it became obvious that the foundations would be inadequate, and the work was abandoned.  A century later, Goovanni di Simone, who lightened the weight on the leaning side and modified the inclination, resumed the project.  By 1350 the bell chamber and seven bells had been added, though they are never tolled.  About 250 years later, Galileo is supposed to have used the tower to demonstrate the principle of gravity.  Approximately 60 m high, the white marble tower is now leaning nearly 5m from the perpendicular.”

Around the Pisa perimeter are many traders selling souvenirs of Italy and Pisa.  Of course, there are also the ‘mobile’ traders who seem to know when the authorities are around, collect there wares in quick time and rush off.  We saw this happen outside the museum where we saw David. I set the video camera for this episode.

After our 90 minutes return to Florence, we shower and get ready to have dinner at a famous restaurant run by the Giovanni family.  The food was again delicious even though we had ravioli.  The chocolate cake and ice cream made up for it.

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