We woke up, packed, and got onto our personal – as a group – coach bus. It would be taking us to the rest of our destinations, since there were so many cities in the next week. Stop number one was Pisa.
After entering the walled area that comprised the Campo dei Miracoli, we were able to see the whole set of monuments. The cathedral was massive compared to the campanile, or the leaning tower, and the baptistery, a circular building adjacent to the cathedral. The field around the three structures was perfect. It was a beautiful sight – and all I had expected was the leaning tower to catch my eye.
Our group eventually entered the tower after a history the Campo and the tower by Dr. Erdogmus. The tower had a narrow stairway, though it was easy enough to ascend it. There was an occasional opening that was a perfect window towards the beautiful Pisan landscape. At the top of the tower, which was obvious to tell which side was higher, for it was a matter of feet even at the smaller summit, we had a 360 view of Pisa. There were mountains in the distance, and all around the Campo dei Miracoli, red-roofed houses and old buildings. The tower itself seemed slightly tall for its diameter, so I believe that even in more stable subsoil, it would have been risky.
We then entered the cathedral, which I thought of as one of my favorites, however similar it was to others. It employed heavy use of stones and was adorned with paintings at the side chapels, along with majestic altars. I found a similarity in that of a Florentine church – some of the arches of both cathedrals had alternating blocks between white marble and green, indicating a similar time period for construction.
In the baptistery, which was last, we could climb to the second floor. It was probably fifty feet above the first, so I was much closer to the dome up above. I found it interesting that the baptistery, however ornate and massive, served the sole purpose of baptism, when in modern churches, even a full immersion baptism would only take up the front of the sanctuary near the altar. It was apparently a bigger deal back in history. Also, every fifteen minutes or so, they have a person come out and do a vocal. This person made sounds as if he was in a choir, but the sound was amazing. The acoustics of the baptistery made it echo with power and resonance unlike any other place imaginable.
After leaving Pisa, we took the bus to San Gimignano, a mountainside village in Tuscany. It was probably the most beautiful landscape of the trip, and the city really was representative of Tuscan Italy. The streets were all made of stone, with a city center surrounded by four storied buildings and residential structures. There were many small alleys and narrow streets, all lined with restaurants or shops. We didn’t have too much time to explore before going to bed, since we arrived in San Gimignano in the late evening, but Dr. Erdogmus led a group of willing students out in the nighttime to go to the top of the hill for a good night view of the landscape.