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Published: June 23rd 2018
Today we have to say good bye to The Splendid Hotel and head out to Pisa and the famous leaning tower. On the way we learned that the tower was poorly designed from the start. First the ground was insecure. Some of the property was wet and some dry leading to a poor choice of location, but since the tower was designed as the bell tower for the church, location was not optional.
So, they drained the water and began building. The first two rings of the tower were good, all level. Next came the third tier and they noticed it was leaning a little so they stopped construction.
After some tinkering, they decided to continue the construction, but they made the columns on one side of the building larger than the other, hoping to straighten the tower. We it didn’t. The tower continued to lean.
Since the lean was actually not too bad, they continued the construction going higher and higher until the building was kinda of straight. They added the bells, which added much more weight.
Well, with people climbing up and down, the heavy bells ringing everyday was too much for the soft ground
and well it leaned. Over the years it leaned more and more until they thought it would fall. So, they brought in the engineers.
First, they tried to stabilize the ground by pumping in cement. Didn’t work. Then they tried to pull the tower in the opposite direction. Failure. They removed the bells to lessen the weight, no help. Next, they tried pushing the tower from the other side and adding counterweights. This helped a whole 4%. Finally, they added some internal structures, removed the cables, took out all the excess weight and stopped people from going to the top for the view. This worked.
The lean was stabilized, and they decided to allow people back into the tower, for a fee of 18E, I guess money trumps lean, anyway the tower still leans and still draws people from all over the world.
The area around the bell tower also has a church, a baptistry and a cemetery all are open to the public. So, we walked around a bit, took the requisite photos and decided on a little lunch just outside the ancient wall.
A delicious pizza lunch consumed, we headed off for some junk
shopping. The area outside the wall was a shopper’s delight, that is if you are into junk shopping, which we are. So, for a few Euro here and there we bought some pasta, in the shape of the various Italian monuments, an inexpensive rolling bag to carry our purchases, some other kitsch and a cup of gelato! Soon it was time to get back on the buss and off to Florence.
We arrive in Florence around 4 PM, just enough time for a very quick nap and a much-needed shower. Tonight, we were in for a special treat. Our Tour Guide Patrezia planned an extravagant dinner in a castle garden high up on the hills overlooking Florence.
Back on the bus we headed out of Florence and up into the hills. Our first stop was the Plaza of Michelangelo. Here we were treated to a spectacular view of Florence. They had a full-sized bronze copy of the David in a position of honor. Back on the bus, we climbed higher and higher over Florence.
We were passing homes built in the 1500’s still inhabited and costing several million Euros. Each home had many rooms, a garden, a
patio and a beautiful high fence for protection from the lower classes. I bet some of these homes were once owned by some very famous people.
Finally, we arrived at the restaurants, The Three Pines. We were invited into the garden and were treated to some live music and a welcoming drink of Prosecco and Curacao. It was shockingly blue and utterly delicious. After our welcome we were shown to our private garden tables area.
There were several other parties in the garden so we all were a very large and very noisy family, especially as the drinks flowed and the music played. On our tables were bottles of sweet peach Prosecco (for the appetizer); Chianti, (for the pasta); and a strawberry Prosecco (for the dessert). The wine bottles emptied quickly, and fresh ones appeared without asking.
Dinner was amazing. First, we had a buffet of appetizers. Plates of bruschetta with breads, olive spread, cheeses, farmers soup, tomato, olives, and many other delights were for the taking.
Our first course was pasta with truffles. Since I have an allergy to mushrooms they brought me a special plate of pasta with pomodoro sauce. A second pasta offering
was next, this had a meat sauce, both were delicious.
After the pasta, came the meat. Our waiters carried out a huge tray with roasted prime rib, complete with a flaming volcano decoration. After dancing around amid much photography, the final course was served. The meat was cooked rare and was juicy and tender. I even snagged a second helping when no one wanted the end cut!
Dessert of strawberry tart and tiramisu. I was not a fan, so I passed on dessert. All during dinner and dessert, we were treated to live music, dancing and much fun and games. All too soon it was time to get back to the bus for the ride back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we would visit the major sights of Florence on foot.
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