Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pisa and Lucca

We truly enjoyed Rome, but now it was time to head out and see the rest of Northern Italy.  Our first stop was Pisa, famous for it's leaning tower.  It was quite impressive to see that this tower, which is leaning quite far, is still standing, and has been standing as long as it has.

IMGP1017 IMGP1020 Look at those goofy tourists!  It was actually funny to see so many people all along this walkway posing the same way!  As crooked as the tower looks here, you can really see how "off" it is when you get up close.


After getting our look at the tower, we had some free time to do some shopping and have lunch.  We found this neat little shop where they sold Pinocchio puppets.  The man who wrote Pinocchio was originally from Pisa.  Anyway, we found a nice puppet for Dylan and a book to go along with it.  Hope he enjoys it.

We found a little restaurant and decided to have some pizza (in Pisa, what else do you have?).  Didn't turn out so well.  Actually my pizza was actually quite good.  The restaurant was on a side street away from the tower.

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I ordered the "Salami Picante", which we in the States know as "pepperoni".  My pizza was good.  Melissa ordered an olive pizza and got a cheese pizza with a few whole olives on top.  Cindy ordered the "Popeye" pizza, and got a cheese pizza with what looked like a couple of handfuls of spinach thrown on the top.  Ha Ha, I liked mine!

After lunch we were off to Lucca where we were going to spend the night.  Lucca was the very cute little medieval town.  We walked through the gates in the wall surrounding the city, and then into the town itself.

IMGP1044 IMGP1048 As you can see, it was very quaint.  At one time the city had an old Roman arena.  That has now been turned into a town "square", but as you can see, it is actually round.

IMGP1052 We spent some time looking around the city, and found a church's tower that we were able to go up inside and see a better view of the entire city.

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IMGP1091 IMGP1094 Lucca had some stores that both Cindy and I found quite attractive.  For myself, of course, I liked the cheese shops.  I'm a cheese freak so it was cool to see so many different cheeses together. Cindy liked the pastry shop.

IMGP1109 IMGP1116 It was a fun day, with quite a bit more traveling than sight-seeing, but we had a great time just the same.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


The Colosseum has to be the most iconic site in Rome.  It is what people initially think about when they think of Rome, at least that's the case for me.  So it was so cool to be able to actually see the Colosseum, live and in person.  I know Melissa was just as excited as I was.


It really was an amazing sight.  To me, it was incredible that it was still standing.  It was built around 290 AD.  What workmanship.  We then got our tickets and went inside. 

IMGP0900Walking out into the interior of the Colosseum for the first time was pretty awe inspiring.  Not just because you were there seeing this incredible antiquity, but for the thoughts that went through my mind of the spectacles that were performed here.  The many deaths that happened all for the entertainment of the masses.  Incredible.



The planning and engineering in here were amazing. You can see that there are walkways and hallways all around down there.

IMGP0910 This was all underneath the floor of the arena.  This is where the gladiators and the animals were kept and moved around.  There were about 60 trap doors in the floor where lions and other predators would be lifted up on elevators and then they would pop out of these trap doors to fight the gladiators.  So, the gladiators would be fighting the animals, most likely getting killed, while the Romans would watch and cheer.  Sad really.

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After spending some time in the Colosseum, we then walked over to the forum.  This was the Roman equivalent of downtown, with offices and shopping.



After the Colosseum and the Forum, it was time to do some other sight seeing.  We had a chance to walk around Rome and see some of the back streets and less "touristy" spots.

IMGP0948 We then ended up at the famous Trevi Fountain.  Beautiful.


Melissa wanted to throw a coin in the fountain.IMGP0960 Actually, as the tradition goes, you throw one coin in if you want to find love, two if you want to get married, and three if you want a divorce.  Melissa threw in two!

After some time at the fountain, it was time to see what Rome was like at night.  One of the first places our guide took us was to a local shopping mall.  It was a lot like what you would expect in the states.  However, there was a terrific crowd there and lots of noise.  It took us some time to figure out what was happening.  It turns out that someone was there for the debut of their new movie.  Maybe you can recognize him in this picture.

IMGP0968 Melissa was very excited to see Will Smith and tried to get close enough to get an autograph, but the crowd was just too big.  It was an exciting surprise, though.

We then traveled around and saw some of the other Roman sights, like the Pantheon. 

IMGP0980 The Pantheon is an old Pagan temple that was converted to a Christian church after Constantine.  It was a very impressive architectural piece.  The dome has a 25 foot hole in the top.  The interesting thing is that it never gets wet inside.  When it rains, the water that comes through the hole evaporates before it gets to the floor.  Interesting.

After the Pantheon, we did a little more shopping and saw some more of the incredible art that just seems to be laying around Rome.


And that was our two days in Rome.  In my next post I'll discuss our next day, which included the famous tower in Pisa.