Pisa, Pisa, Pisa… what to say about Pisa. I was only there for half a day, it was a stop-off on our route from Rome through the Italian Riviera to Rapallo. What didn’t help my enthusiasm for Pisa was the reviews I’d already heard/read from friends and bloggers, quite frankly telling me that Pisa was a ‘pisa’ shit. I try not to let others opinions affect mine of course but coming from Rome – a city which I adore – I wasn’t completely obsessed with Pisa.
On this day in particular, I remember feeling pretty rough as well, my stomach wasn’t right (blame the rich Italian food) and I just wasn’t really myself. My first week of non-stop travel had taken it’s toll on me at this point. It was exhausting, draining and even a little deflating for short moments of time when I thought ‘is this what it’s going to be like? Am I going to feel normal again?’ Thinking that my ultimate dream to travel and see the world could be darkened by feeling so weak and tiresome is a disappointing thought. HOWEVER, it does change. It improves. Your body adapts to the lifestyle of being constantly on the move, having late nights, catching early trains, adjusting to different weather conditions, eating different cuisines. Somewhere along the blurred line, it all becomes clearer and you feel better. You feel like yourself again. But what I remember of Pisa will always have an undertone of the way I felt at that time and I couldn’t enjoy that day to it’s full potential.
Once you’ve walked from the train station to the central part of Pisa, passing a river with its water coloured very unpleasantly brown and passing some tattered streets – some however are quite pretty and rustic, like you imagine most old, Italian streets to be – you eventually stumble upon the main sight of Pisa. The Leaning Tower is not like I pictured in my mind, the tower itself was but the area that surrounds it was very different. It sits surrounded by a fenced area of grass, with signs asking tourists not to go on the grass, but you know tourists like to break the rules so don‘t expect the grass to be clear behind you when you‘re trying to take your best Pisa pose. Another thing I didn’t realise was that there are two other leaning buildings in the vicinity, the Dome (the Pisa Cathedral) and the Baptistery.
For lunch we ate at a popular sandwich shop called L’Ostellino, which must have had a menu pretty much as long as the tower of Pisa with sooo many sandwich options. The shop itself was extremely Italian. It stunk of truffles and wine, a combo of smells I had become familiar with when passing by several deli’s in Rome. One review I’ve seen on this place described it as ‘the best sandwich in Europe’ – take from that what you will!
After lunch and spending some time strolling around the area, taking silly photos and playing cards on the grass, we started our walk back to the train station. Some stopped for gelado on the way and I wish I could’ve indulged but I was in sensible-eating-mode and I passed.
Pisa was one of those places that I can now easily tick off my list but I wouldn‘t write home about. In other words, now that I’ve seen it I don‘t think I’d be likely to return. It wasn’t disastrous by any means, it was very authentic in places, which is exactly what I like most but I just felt like an afternoon stop-off was all that was needed to see Pisa.
By the time we boarded our train to Rapallo, I was looking forward to 2 things.
1. Feeling at least a tiny bit better.
2. Seeing Cinque Terre… the five beautiful towns that had been one of my most anticipated highlights of my tour and I couldn’t wait to explore them.
Find out if exploring Cinque Terre was as amazing as I imagined…