Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The horror of one thousand shrieking ring wraiths..

Last Thursday we all got up early and boarded the slow train to visit Pisa and Lucca. It is called the "slow train" because it stops at every stop, and is slightly less classy than the fast trains. Something else we quickly found out is that the breaks on these trains are far from quiet or calming. When applied to slow the speed of a thundering train, they sound like shrieking ring wraiths(for my fellow Lord of the Ring lovers) or like one million small children screaming simultaneously on a tall roller coaster. Seriously. It is one of the most blood curdling sounds I've heard in a long time.(And thats saying a lot, because I've listened to my share of terrible beginner clarinet and oboe players.)
Once on the train we had about an hour long trip to Pisa where we saw the famous leaning tower(which is actually a bell tower, I never knew that) and the cathedral that goes along with it. 
We wandered around and took goofy pictures for a while before we got the real experience. You see, they still let people climb it and explore all around the top. The hallway around the inside is narrow and gets narrower as you get closer to the top, but that wasn't the weirdest part. It's a super weird sensation to be climbing a spiral staircase and to feel your angle change the further you climb. At one point the wall to your right will be pushing into you and in a few steps the whole building will shift to the left. I should probably also mention that the ancient stone steps we took to the top were worn down in the middle at least 3 or 4 inches, so not only were the walls "moving", but you couldn't decide were to place your feet either! 
It took a good 5 or 6 minutes to climb to the "top", and by the time we made it up 8 stories, the wind had picked up into full blown gusts. That day I just happened to be wearing my longest, flowy-est, billowiest skirt. Bad news bears. I held on to my camera with one hand and my skirt with the other so Marilyn Monroe could keep the skirt blowing award. The views from up there were great, and I tried to just soak it all in. 
After walking almost all the way around the tower, we entered a small opening in the tower and I realized...we weren't all the way to the top yet. Yikes! We climbed another story or two to where the church bells were kept and where I definitely gave ol' Marilyn a run for her money.(Lets just say that by the time I got back down, my hand was pretty cramped.) The views from this point were even more breathtaking, and the bells were amazing as well. I'll never forget one of my friends whispering in my ear, "Can you imagine running up here every time the bells had to be rung?" I definitely cannot. It was quite the hike, let me tell you!
After we got all the heights and sights we could take, we caught the next train to Lucca were we visited the home of Giacomo Puccini, who was the composer of many a great opera. After visiting his apartment, we tasted our first Italian hot chocolate before we crowded onto our last train of the day that would take us back to Florence.

1 comment:

  1. I did not realize they opened the stairs in the leaning tower again. That is such an exciting experience, even without the wind-blown skirt. I dropped my pocket knife from about half way up, when I got back down I found it in the grass and discovered my knife left a circular mark on the face of the stone, my own permanant mark on history... lol