Italia is a place that keeps calling me back time and time again. I just got back from my fourth trip there in the seven years I’ve been living in Europe. I’m not sure whether it’s the culture, the food, the natural beauty or what, but I always leaving wanting more.
This Semana Santa, I spent my time frolicking in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre. I’ve been with very spotty wifi that has kept me from updating the blog LIVE as I had been planning on doing. Better late than never.
On Friday, April 3, I caught a BlaBlaCar (a car ride share service that connects people in need of a ride with those of a car and *is* still legal) from Bilbao to Madrid. Everything went fine with the flight, although my bags were both a little bit bigger than the Ryan Air requirements. Don’t tell anyone. Upon arrival in Pisa, I was a bit disheartened to see that the weather forecast was right. Cloudy and overcast skies, as if I hadn’t left Bilbao. Where was the Tuscan Sun promised me by Diane Lane movies changing everything about a memoir? I had a quick cappuccino at the airport and bought a bus ticket before catching the bus right before it was pulling out. (This was a theme for my entire trip, it seemed).
For those who haven’t been to Italia, you should always buy bus tickets from the tobacco shops as they will be much cheaper than those bought on board the bus. I would later find that out on my last day in Florence, but that’s a spoiler for an upcoming entry. The bus took me to the centre of Pisa, where it’s one claim to fame, a leaning tower, can be found. The ticket I had bought online for 18€ was for 13.30 (1:30 PM), so I had an early lunch to kill some time. I had been in Pisa in 2008, my very first trip to Italia, but I had never climbed the tower. After lunch, the rain started. As you can’t take bags up the tower, I was more than happy to leave my luggage at the luggage desk. I took the obligatory supporting the Tower photo again as the skies opened and the rain came down.
My umbrella did little to protect me as I stood in line, waiting for 13:30 to roll around. I practiced a little of my rusty Italian with the guard, who was quite pleased to help me with it. As people came out, he punched my ticket and let the 13:30 group in. A tour guide explained a brief history of the tower in Italian, then in English, before letting us free to climb the 300-odd stairs to the top.
The top is open, and my umbrella continued to fail to protect me from the torrential rains. I should consider myself lucky they didn’t close it. The views of the surrounding Tuscan landscapes astonished me, and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the sunshine. Diane Lane movies lie. Okay, there was that scene where the winds went through and the house got wet, which was exactly how this storm was.
I took a ton of photos. You don’t notice that you’re in a tower that’s leaning while you’re in it, which is part of the mystery of this tower. (And it is not made of pizza. My students believe it’s the Tower of Pizza!)
I bought a bus ticket back and arrived just as the bus to the train station 2 kilometres away (easily walkable for me if it weren’t raining and I didn’t have my luggage for a week away from home). I arrived at the train station, soaked to the bone and most of my luggage too, with five minutes to buy my ticket before the next train left for La Spezia and onto Corniglia…one of the Cinque Terre.
A continuación…..(to be continued in Spanish