Monday, May 21, 2012

Italy: Spring 2012: Wednesday, May 16: Day 22: Pisa

Italy: Spring 2012: Wednesday, May 16: Day 22: Pisa

We continue to luck out in the weather department....a little cooler this morning but still clear and sunny.  Breakfast again in the charming hotel garden and then back to the Piazza dei Miracoli to visit the Baptistery and Duomo.

The Baptistery is a very impressive building...a very large structure with intricate carvings and sculptures on the exterior.  It was completed in 1363.

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Inside it is largely unadorned....very high dome with a large, elaborately decorated baptismal font

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and an impressive carved Pisano pulpit 

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A notable feature of the Baptistery is the perfect acoustics...every half hour a staff member demonstrates how the sound travels and echoes and he is applauded by the people watching.

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Here is the view from the second level that rings the building.

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While I am on the second level of the Baptistery, I take two pictures that I like of the Duomo and the Tower from the grated window.

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The Duomo--which is earlier than the Baptistery (begun in 1064)--has some very appealing features.  First, the bronze doors to the center entrance, are very impressive--the panels tell the story of the life of Christ and is the only original door remaining.

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The gilded wooden roof of the cathedral is ornately decorated 

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and has the Medici coat of arms displayed in the middle.

An even more impressive Pisano pulpit from the 13th century stands on the floor

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Ironically it was only re-placed in the Duomo in 1926 after having been stored away after the disastrous fire of 1595 which caused heavy damage to the building.

There is impressive mosaic over the altar reminsicent of the mosaics seen in Monreale Sicily

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and Diana especially likes the tiled Cosmatesque floors.

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We walk back to the hotel and decide to have a light lunch in the garden since the day is so nice.....we enjoy the sun and the peacefulness.

After lunch, we have arranged a visit to the Jewish cemetery which is located just outside the Piazza dei Miracoli behind the Baptistery.  It is said to be the oldest continually used Jewish cemetery in Europe, dating from the 17th century.  The Jewish community in Pisa was very similar to the community in Livorno--very integrated into the fabric of the city and there was no ghetto.  One of the graves tells that the person was Mayor of Pisa in the early 20th century.

It is always a bittersweet, melancholy experience to visit these cemeteries....this one being in the shadow of the Baptistery gives it even more poignancy.

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Parts of the cemetery are well kept up but others have become overgrown.

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I take another walk around another part of town and find the vegetable market where i buy some good strawberries.  We go out for an aperitif at one of the bars in the student section passing by a big celebration for a recent graduate who is wearing the traditional laurel wreath.

The restaurant where I planned to eat dinner is full so we go to another place just down the street.  I am a little apprehensive because there is no one eating there but dinner turns out fine...the people are friendly and the food quite good.

After dinner, we make a return visit to the Piazza dei Miracoli to see the buildings at night without the crowds....it is a very different experience.

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Tomorrow we head south to Umbria to check out the villa we are renting next year for the whole family.

Jim and Diana

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