For the last two days our view of the Tuscan countryside has been one of the wild, wild wet. The beautiful, sunny weather that is so appealing to tourists (and what you imagine if you read “Under the Tuscan Sun”) is not all that is required to grow grapes (and thus make wine); they also need moisture (in the form of rain). So while we have been a little challenged in our site seeing, the vintners of Tuscany are thrilled.
Friday the rain fell, sputtered and spit on us for most of the day (and got downright chilly), but we roamed and wandered through our “neighborhood” (a mere 20 kilometers away), visited the local shops and attractions and made our way to Grosseto (see Christopher’s post). Today however, was rain of a different sort.
We left our hotel headed for Pisa (a 2 ½ hour drive) to of course, visit the leaning tower. It was cloudy and grey as we departed, so we armed ourselves with umbrellas, preparing for a day of rain similar to the day before. Well, if the grape growers loved Friday’s weather they must really have loved today’s. Less than ½ hour into our drive, a downpour began to fall, complete with thunder and lightning. Our thought? We’re here, we’re going to see this!
We talked and drove and made our way to Pisa. The weather finally began to break, which was good news for a couple of reasons. The first for ease of sightseeing, the second to relieve Jordan’s fatigue driving for so long in extreme weather, on foreign (therefore unknown) roads, with a manual transmission.
Luck gave us a parking spot near the famous leaning tower, and while the rain had just picked up the pace again at this point, we grabbed our umbrellas and cameras and headed on foot the ¼ mile or so to “the tower”. We were half way between the car and this famous attraction when the rain turned torrential! Not ideal, but nonetheless, when we got there, even peering from beneath our umbrellas, the view made it worthwhile.
This stop was by far our most “touristy” but in some ways the most fascinating. First of all, it is one of those attractions that every kid reads about (or sees in a cartoon). Secondly, it just sits there, leaning to one side, adjacent to a cathedral, like it was meant to lean. Bottom line, it is just plain weird to see it in person. While it is propped and supported in some manner, curiosity still lead us to wonder why it has not fallen over, imploded on itself, or broken in half.
We have pictures of
ourselves complete with umbrellas in hand – without crossing a barrier, visitors
are not able to get close enough any longer to obtain the “look at me, I am
holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” photograph (and while some tourists
hopped the barrier, it was just too wet for us). I imagine if the conditions had been better, we may have
taken the time and Jordan may have taken the effort to determine how to line us
all up at some crazy angle and capture one of the ultimate tourist
moments. Instead, we settled for a
few snapshots and a trip to the souvenir stand to round out the experience with
the purchase for Christopher of a mini replica of the tower for a mere three
Euros. Hey, not all of
the finer moments of travel can be about the art. . .