|Italy||Pisa and Siena||2001.06.20 - 06.23|
Pisa and Siena are 2 hours away from each other by train, but accommodation availability dictated that we stay in Pisa and day trip to Siena. We telephoned all the Siena budget listings in the Lonely Planet for a double room, but they were full. Pisa turned out to the cheaper and quieter. Overall, it worked out for the better.
Pisa's Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower) is the only main attraction of the city. Most tourists stop in Pisa for a few hours en route to another destination. This keeps the city relatively quiet and hassle-free. For the most part, Pisa has a university town feel. Students bicycle between university buildings and crowd the cheaper delicious eateries. In a tiny section of town near the Torre Pendente and the university, at least four Internet Cafés cluster together competing for customers with evening discounts and reduced multi-hour rates. Other student attracting businesses, like a coin laundry, are also a great help to backpackers. Overall, we think Pisa is a perfect base from which to explore Tuscany.
Siena is an attractive tourist-luring city with a medieval center. Expect to find high prices and limited vacancies. We saw the main sites in a day.
The shell-shaped piazza Il Campo is the central reference point in the city. The piazza's brick paving is divided into 9 sectors, representing the members of the Council of Nine, the ruling body in the mid-14th century that decided the layout of the city's center. On one side of Il Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico with a bell tower reached by a never-ending narrow passage of steep stairs. A magnificent 360° view of the city awaits those who make it to the top. Also worth a visit are the duomo and the Battistero di San Giovanni just underneath.
||The front of the Pisa duomo in the setting sunlight.|
||The bell tower of the Pisa duomo, Torre Pendente (or Leaning Tower), has been closed to public entry since 1990. Due to compression of the earth below its base, the tower started to lean before the completion of its construction.|
||The front face of the white and dark green striped Siena duomo has beautiful golden mosaics.|
||Within the Siena duomo is Libreria Piccolomini built by Pope Pius III in 1503 to house religious books. Colorful frescos decorate the walls and ceiling. Equally colorful are the pictures in the displayed books.|
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