What did we do on Ferragosto? Sweet Ferr Agosto, that’s what we did! We stayed in most of the day. For lunch, Niamh cooked herself eggs. I’m not a fan of ‘in-your-face’ eggs, and so went to La Taverna della Terra di Mezzo and had pici all’anatra (pici with duck sauce). The dish was sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and was very tasty. I noticed that many of the tourist-driven places were still open, so that was good. Most of the more functional stores were closed, though.

In the evening, we marinated the chicken we bought the previous day and cooked up a nifty little stir-fry. Now we just have to find out where we can buy more soy sauce!

The next day, we had to get up early, and I had to skip walking and blogging, as we had to pick up a friend from Pisa airport and take a trip into town to check it out.  We’d been to the cathedral square before, but it was 10 years ago, and we were long overdue a visit.

With the aid of Google Maps, it was easy enough to find the carpark – just a 3-minute walk from the tower.  It was around 10:30, and there were still plenty of spots.

We strolled around the park, looking on bemusedly at the tourists trying to get their trick-shot of the tower.  It’s an impressive site, and obviously worth a visit.  For us it’s about a 75 minute journey by car – not bad at all.

We priced tickets for visiting the three main buildings.  The cathedral is free, but you still have to queue to collect a pass.  The queue time was less than a minute at that time of day.  We also wanted to see the baptistry, and that cost us €5 per person.  There are also other attractions there, which cost you progressively less the more attractions you add to your ticket.  It’s a whopping €18 per person to climb the tower, and you only have a limited time to get up, down and wander.  Cheapskates that we are, we gave it a miss.

The cathedral is a beautiful example of Pisan-Romanesque architecture, and is home to some wonderful works of art.

It was the baptistry’s turn next.  I believe that, on the hour, a singer enters and sings a note, which echoes off the walls, and then sings a harmonising note to accompany themselves.  We didn’t catch that, unfortunately, but you might be able to find it for yourself on YouTube.  Anyway, a couple of us climbed some winding stairs to the upper gallery.

Leaving the hordes behind us, we made for a stroll along the Arno, to look for a restaurant, passing the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina along the way.

 I can’t remember the name of the place we stopped at for lunch, unfortunately, but the ladies had salads/platters, while I went for boar with paccheri (think very large maccheroni!).  The food was passable.

Onwards, then, towards Pisa’s commercial centre, and to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.  I really should have taken a better pic of the man himself.  The area is quite lovely and also worth a little trip if you’re in Pisa.  Remember that many shops may be closed between 13:00 and 16:00, though.

We had a long, very hot walk back to the car afterwards, even with a little gelato taken on-board.  As a result, my arms and neck are a little redder than they ought to be this morning.

Once we got home, we cleaned ourselves up, and set about giving a speed-tour of Volterra to our guest.  We stopped off at Quo Vadis (the Irish bar) for a couple of pints and a light snack, and managed to catch the sunset.  Upon arriving home, we found that a full cover-band was playing live directly under our apartment.  Fun times.  We were too wrecked to listen, unfortunately.

I didn’t sleep terribly well, and about 5 minutes into the walk, I thought that this was going to be a short one, but after a couple of steep slopes I woke up and had a decent stroll.  I was reminded that I was showing our guest yesterday that many of the streets’ flagstones have seashells embedded in them, indicating that the source rock (which is local) was at one time part of a littoral landscape, or even a seabed itself, despite being about 500m above sea-level.  Plate tectonics rock!

It’s market day today, and we’ll saunter down later on and see what we can grab.  No other plans, though.  I want to give my skin a little rest after soaking up so much radiation yesterday, and I know I’m going to crash in the afternoon.  But this is always subject to change!

Cheerio, and see you in the next one!

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