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Pisa & That Famous Tower

March 13, 2008

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Traveling kids like name brand sites because they hear and read so much about them, so for that reason alone, we had to put Pisa on our Italian itinerary. Most kids will not be aware of the many ancient sites we have been to. I was not even aware of some of them before doing my research, but everyone and their brother seems to recognize the leaning tower of Pisa.

There is a good, but strange campsite right by this famous site. I say strange, because basically it is just a big section of the parking lot for this site. We had wanted to go to this one:

http://tuscany.campingtoscana.it/

But it was too late in the season, so it was closed (as of Oct 15th), thus we just missed it. I think it is better than the one we stayed at if you are going to be here for a longer stay. I have not been able to find a website for the one we stayed at, but it is right in the central parking place where all the cars and tour buses park. There is no greenery, but it is a close walk to everything and one could even take the tram I suppose.

It was all much more impressive than what I had expected and there is more than just the leaning tower of Pisa. Again, we were so glad to be there off season, as I have heard tales of wall to wall packed crowds. There is a nice lawn to hang out on and it was a gorgeous sunny day. Most people do it as a day trip from Florence (usually by train) and we considered that, but I almost wish we had spent a few days there so we could linger more. We had just seen the church in Florence where Galileo was buried, so it was interesting to be in Pisa where he was born and raised.

Here are a couple sites for kids that are about Pisa and its famous leaning tower. This is the official site:

http://torre.duomo.pisa.it/index_eng.html

And this kidipede page has a  video if you want to get a little of the experience of walking up to the top of the tower:

http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/medieval/architecture/pisatower.htm

After we left Pisa we headed to Siena which I had really wanted to see. Things did not go as planned. First the campground was very difficult to find and then when we finally found it, we discovered that they had closed a little early for the season. By then it was dark and we were in a strange, dark and hilly area. Luckily, we found the perfect place to pull over and decided to park for the night in a public parking spot in a suburban type neighborhood.

It turned out to be one of our favorite camping spots and the price was right...free. There was a coffee shop close by where we had breakfast the next morning watching all the neighbors come in for their morning coffee as they headed to work. There was another shop with very sweet people that let us use their phone to call the inn that we would be staying at in Umbria. We had a nice dinner with enough lights from the street lights (since we were not plugged into power), went to bed early and got up and out quickly after taking care of a little business with “our” neighborhood stores and cafe.

So that part of Sienna was divine and we even had a lovely view over typical Tuscan fields, but when we tried to go in and do a proper tour, fate was against us. It started pouring rain and we kept going in circles. Finally, after much too long of going nowhere fast, we had to admit this was not working and had to let Sienna proper go. DaVinci had seen it before, but Mozart and I would just have to be satisfied with what we did see.

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