As our train dragged to a halt in the noisy station of Pisa Centrale, we noticed the colourful pot pourri of people swarming the place. It was so noticeable…
The station and the waiting areas were small but the cars that pose as taxis are the latest models swanky European, well, Italian models. We were two families and so we took two cabs that wound through streets that looked fascinating with cobblestone roads and ancient and modern buildings jostling for space.
In a street that looked like million others, was our obscure hotel that looked like it was an old tiny house. But this one grew vertically and the lift was another wonderful modern architecture. It was kind of, well, skewed.
The rooms were tiny with capital T and the view was…er…. less said the better. But does it really matter, we asked ourselves. We are not going to be there the bulk of the time.
So, we were cool!
After arranging our bags and luggage tucked neatly in the available nooks, corners and shelves, we showered and changed quickly and walked to the Tower. Yes, the Leaning Tower. We had made an online booking and had to be there on time.
The evening July sun was reluctant in leaving and there was a joyous swathe of yellow rays that was covering all of those that were waiting in the lush lawns surrounding the Bell Tower.
The steps that go around inside the tower are off the centre, due to the lean and you do feel that you are shifting to one side when you are climbing up and coming down. That was just fascinating. A feel of high at no cost or implications!
From the first level, upto which the visitors are allowed we could see the beautiful cityscape of Pisa and in the yellow glow of the setting sun and distant church bells, it looked so ethereal.
The allotted time for visitors that are sent up in batches is 30 to 40 minutes and that is ample enough time to soak up the beauty. After you come down, the well manicured lawns and avenues flanking the tower provide a different feast for your eyes and senses. The variety of restaurants and cafes nearby offer a taste of fine wine and Italian food. The place bustles with tourists and visitors till late into the night.
One word of caution when you shop for the mementos- be ready to be thrown off your balance with the smart answers from the shopkeepers. The shops are manned by, yes, Indian and Bangladeshi youth. There was this beautiful porcelain Tower of Pisa on sale in one of the tiny shops that was selling knickknacks . Everything was fine except that it was not a leaning tower. We told our ire to the Bangladeshi shop keeper.
“Does it look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa?”, he asked.
“Yes, it does”, we told him. The architectural uniqueness was unmistakable.
“You know this tower is leaning?” it was a question to us, pointing at the majestic Bell Tower that was towering over the place.
“Yes, we know”.
“So you just imagine that this tower, (the memento) is leaning too….”