Pizza in Pisa and Pasta in Rome. Also culture.

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May 7th 2017
Published: May 7th 2017
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We had to leave Venice pretty early on the Tuesday morning, so had almost no chance to see what you would normally see - but at least managed to see some Gondolas on our way to the train station while on the Vaporetti...We made it to our train on time, and had our first experience of being "hustled" - someone on the train helping people to get their luggage up the stairs and in the storage area - then finding them in the seats and requesting money. Luckily I was assisted by a local who knew the routine. The train to Florence was a high speed FrecciaRosa - complimentary snack and drink, comfy seats and all the charging ports a 14 year old could want - we changed to a local "Regionale" train from Florence to Pisa - and that was..well..more pedestrian shall we say. I wont get over the experience of having to use the toilets on that train in a hurry! In any case we got to our apartment in Pisa and was met by Francesco, our host, who showed us around the apartment - and for the first time in this trip - I slept in a different room!!! Which I am sure Evie was just as happy about! I went for my obligatory walk about town to go to the Supermarket and check out the lay of the land, and fell in love with Pisa in 30 mins. Gelaterias, Pizzerias, cafes young people everywhere (thanks to the University) and a great casual vibe. Cool dude playing an electrified acoustic guitar beautifully. We relaxed in the evening with some pizza and pasta I got from a place up the road - (note to family - Evie LOVES TORTELLINI). On Wednesday I took Evie around the area I had been the day before, stopped for a coffee and a cannoli in the sun, and explored the long square before being dwarfed by the Leaning Tower - it's amazing how all of a sudden its just THERE - no gates no long lead up- its just there. Surrounded by 3 other really gorgeous churches and monuments so its like History Central Station. We explored every angle, examined the lean, and just enjoyed being in the moment, We then strllled around the tourist shops before heading back for a bath and a glass of wine. We went to a local restaurant for dinner, sitting outside as it's done here and soaked it up. Thursday the weather was a bit daggy so we spent the morning doing washing (oh joy) and then headed out in the afternoon to a few museums - one being a tiny collection that is part of the University of Pisa of Egyptian artefacts including a sarcophagus with skeleton, and a museum of computing and arithmetic, dad - you would have loved it. It took you from the earliest adding machines through to early typing/printing, then to the huge Turing style machines, through to early IBM, Amega and Commodore computers from the 80s to more modern Apple machines of the current era. It was really cool. It inspired us to locate the Enigma Machine when we are in Rome. We had a gelato on the way home and then relaxed till we headed out for dinner in a tiny place, Eating out here is so much cheaper than it was in Paris. Pasta and Pizza cost between 6 and 9 Euro each, so dinner for the 2 of us including wine/soft drink and bruschetta costs around 22 Euro ($33 Au). Also really like the serving of wine in 1/4 or 1/ 2 litre rather than by the glass. So much cheaper! Friday was travel day, We got a cab from our apartment to Pisa station and got there ridiculously early, plus our train was 20 mins late so we spent a great deal of that morning waiting with luggage, Finally got the train - this time an Intercity (one step down from frecciarose and one step up from Regionale ) - the journey was enjoyable as we passed some gorgeous coastline and Tuscan countryside. Arrived at Rome Termini and was entirely unprepared for the size and PEOPLE rushing everywhere. We grabbed something to eat from there as the train had no cafe carriage, and then cabbed it to our apartment - where we were met by Massimo - an Italian man with a huge personality and an even bigger voice -was a Airline Captain for Alitalia so speaks 6 languages, and knows everything about everything, including how to charm- Evie's first experience of being kissed on the hand...I went for my first day walk to the supermarket and found a fairly large place (by Europe standards) and was surprised to see you can (if you wanted to) by Frozen PIzza, Honestly - its maybe two Euros cheaper than going 5 steps out your front door and having one made! In any case I bought the incgredients to make us a decent pasta, salad and a garlic bread of sorts - something that must be a western concoction - as it is not on the menu anywhere here...also bought myself a bottle of REALLY good 2011 wine for a whole 6 Euro. Delectable. Came home after my epic shop and made a really great meal for us both. OUr apartment is about 6 minutes from the Colosseum, and is an architecturally designed space in a cave which has parts that date back to 2 BC, and the majority of the building is about 1000 years old. Very little natural light and an amazing use of space. The walls are so thick that the wifi stops working as soon as you leave the lounge area! It is gorgeous though. Saturday was Ancient Day. We headed out about 9.30 for the Colosseum - another one of those things where there you are just sauntering down the road and then HEY - THERE'S THE COLOSSEUM! Man it is massive. Having already bought tickets, we got to go in the quick line - which was genuinely quick - and we spent a good 2 hours walking through every level and aspent of the structure , including a museum section which gives great info and artefacts about the use of the space after the whole "Lion Vs Christian" thing was no longer the amusement-de-jour...Truly fascinating. We went back and had some lunch, then headed out again the afternoon and walked through the ruins of the Roman Forum - seeing The Temple of Saturn, and so many great ancient ruins. Evie had a great time taking photos and standing in the history of it all. She developed a love of all things ancient (roman, greek, egyptian) from Horrible Histories - so was educating me about a lot! The warmth was just fantastic - T shirts or singlet tops again - woohoo! So nice to feel the sun and be not even a bit cold. We wandered back and enjoyed some culture of the modern era - a really talented beatboxer who was making a damn good living by busking, and some spray paint artists who made visions of the colosseum in diiferent colour schemes and aspects. Very cool. We had dinner at a local place just up the road where I had my first Italian Canneloni, and overdid it by ordering myself a half litre of wine...oops! ahh well. Sunday I had allocated as a blob day for Evie, so I took my time the morning and headed out on my own in the afternoon, I walked the streets of Rome, past the Teatre Dell'Opera, through The Borghese gardens to the National Gallery of Modern Art, which was not only free, but allowed me to see Klimt, Monet, Pollock and some other really interesting things. I navgiated the metro to get back home - sadly not a pinch on the Paris system - Rome's is dark ,dirty and complicated. This evening we are heading to a pizzeria and are off to see the ruins of Pompeii tomorrow! only 9 days left of our trip before we head home...

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8th May 2017

Yum yum! Italy is delish. Look forward to hearing about your experience of Pompeii. x

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