Italy Day 7: Pretty Pretty Pisa

One of the great parts about our trip to Pisa was the weather.  It was a beautiful, cloudless day that was neither too hot nor too cold.  I even got to partake in one of my favorite Italy activities, public napping.  In almost every park or large grassy area we visited, we spent time just relaxing in the grass, usually with a large number of other tourists and locals.  Warm sun, soft grass, and my ability to sleep darn near anywhere led to so many fantastic naps in Italy.

Another view of the


.  I really like this one because it shows the two different materials they used for the roof.  The left half is a metal roof, while the right side is clay shingles.  We read many different stories about why this was done, but none were conclusive.  It was either to save money on the cost of the metal roof, to prevent corrosion on the roof from the salty sea breezes, or some other unspecified reason.  Either way, it gives a unique patchwork appearance.

This is the front of the Pisa Duomo.  Of all three Duomos we saw in Italy (




) I liked the exterior of this one best, although the dome of the Florence Duomo was super stylish.

While the exteriors of all the buildings were quite impressive, the interior of the Baptistery blew us away, although not because of its styling or beauty, but because of it's stellar acoustics.  While we were walking around, a lady walked into the center of the room and started singing.  If you've ever stood in the middle of a circular space, you've probably heard the echos when you talk, but this was the single best example of it that I've ever heard.  She did an amazing job creating chords and other such beauty using only one voice because the sounds reverberated in the room so much.  We found out after the fact, that they do this little demo every 30 minutes or so, so if you ever get the chance to visit the Baptistery, stay until you hear it.  I'm almost certain it's what angels would sound like.  Interestingly, they don't know if it was built to have such perfect acoustics, or if it was just a happy fluke, but either way, it didn't have these acoustics until the cupola was added in the 1300s.  More


on how amazing the space really is.

 All of the windows in the Baptistery had wire mesh over them, to prevent accidents I'm sure, but they were kind enough to cut out squares of the mesh in a few choice "Kodak moment" type spots. This was one of those spots, and it does make for a great photo of the Duomo from a higher vantage point.  I especially like the Leaning Tower just peaking up over the Duomo as if to say "don't forget me!"

This is one of the last pictures I took on our way out.  By this time it was pretty busy both on the grassy lawns and in the side streets where vendors were hawking their incredibly funny tourist junk.

Our next stop was the Jewish cemetery just around the corner from the Duomo. (it was a very big corner!)  I have a strange fascination for cemeteries, and we've found one to visit on all of our trips. (

Coptic Cairo



, and Sri Lanka)  I'm drawn to cemeteries because on all of our trips, they've been quiet refuges in the midst of loud crowded streets, and there's something so interesting in thinking about the lives they lived and their experiences.  This was especially true as Jewish cemetery in Italy.

I thought these gravestones were especially interesting because you can see where rain and water have washed it clean and where it hasn't.  If you look at it a certain way, it almost looks like two halves of a heart.

After the cemetery, we wandered through some of the tourist stalls and wandered through the city on our way back to the train station.  We wandered across this old ruined area, but it wasn't on any of our maps, so we have no idea what it is or might have been.

We crossed the same bridge back to the train station and walked by the

Santa Maria della Spina

and it's even more obvious here how small the church is.