Pisa tour group

No you went to America and left all your pre-written blogs on your laptop in London. Ugh. I am sitting in my hotel room trying to get sticky rice out of my hair, nursing a stubbed toe and wearing a Sephora sheet mask. I know, it’s a wonder I’m still single. Anyway since its late here and all my well thought out (who am I kidding, my blog could never be accused of being well thought out) posts are in the old country, I thought I would quickly share my Pisa rant with you.

Our original plan with the trip to Italy was to get a villa in the middle of Tuscany, rent a car and do a whole bunch of day trips to Florence, Sienna and Pisa. We then thought a little harder and realised that this plan meant someone would have to stay sober to drive – and we were not down with that, not when we were in the home of the Italian vineyard. Instead we settled on a week in Florence and a half day trip to Pisa. Sienna can go do one.

There are a couple of options when day tripping from Florence to Pisa. We decided against the train (slightly quicker and cheaper option) because it would have involved a 20 minute walk in 40°C; there is not enough gelato in the world to rehydrate me from that. Which left us with one option – the ever popular group tour.

Pisa tour group pose

I possibly could have predicted how the tour was going to go when I sat on the bus and was instantly surrounded by a high volume group discussing AFL. But the bus had already started moving so unless I could teach my parents to commando roll out of a moving vehicle we were stuck with it.

Once we arrived at Pisa the grouped walked like they had just aged 100 years. Moving at a painfully slow shuffle, by the time we got 30 people within site of the tower itself I was ropable. We were meant to be going to tour the church next door first, and with violence in my eyes we, ah… decided not to. Instead we made the awesome life choice of going to find a cafe within sight of the leaning thing and downed iced coffee after iced coffee.

Pisa tour group pose

Now for the rant. Oh my sweet baseball cap wearing mother of Jesus; what is up with everyone taking perspective photos as if they are holding the tower up? I could get it if it was just a one or two, I love a novelty photo as much as the next man, but this was literally every single photo being taken. Twatwombles, each and every one of them. To make it worse in the background of every single one of their photos is 20 other people doing the exact same thing. At least be vaguely original by lying down and pretending the Leaning Tower is your penis.

Anyway, it was totally worth doing the tour (even with all the internal rage) because it was the easiest way to get to see the Leaning Tower without thinking. I honestly never imagined I would get to Pisa, in my head it was always a far off destinations that only the lucky got to visit. Pisa was one of those world wonders that you learn about in primary school and could very well be imaginary – I mean who on earth lets a tower lean that much without rebuilding? Oh Pisa, the link from the past coming up hard against digital photography.

Florence Duomo

Whenever we walked passed the Duomo in Florence there were a couple of issues. The first was that I never had my shoulders and knees covered at the same time. As we all know, Jesus is particularly offended by the site of a females joints so I couldn’t possibly go into the house of god with them exposed (my dad however trotted in totally naked and Jesus winked at him on the way out). The second issue was the horrendously long line that stretched down the entire length of the church. According to online reviews the line moves quickly, but all I saw was sweaty people with screaming children standing unmoving in the line for an hour.  The third was that my favourite gelato shop was on the other side of town.

I love an old cathedral, but not enough to stand in the sun without gelato for an hour.

Then my Mum eavesdropped on an American couple who had such a good Florence hack that it actually made my trip. It was so good that we thought my Mum had got heatstroke and made it all up. We made her go and lay down for a while. But it turns out she wasn’t crazy and was possibly justified in calling us untrustworthy dicks.

Fine, I made that last bit up for comic effect, believe it or not my Mum does not swear. No I don’t know where I got it from either. #wankpuffin

Anyway the Duomo. The Cathedral is free to visit, and all you have to do is stand in a line from now to eternity. However if you are willing to spend €2 and watch an awesome movie you can skip the line totally. Just around the corner from the cathedral is Teatro Niccolini home of The Duomo Experience, the answer to all your prayers. For €2 you get to watch a 15 minute film about the humanist importance of the Duomo; a little bit on the building and the art. Then with the same ticket you can just walk up to the door of the Cathedral and walk straight in. Seriously, €2, 15min and you can waltz into the Duomo like Mary (the virgin one, not the whore one).

They will try to talk you into the €15 all access pass that covers the five Florence museums, but all you need for the Church is the cheap ass movie ticket.

Teatro Niccolini

We were expecting to have to endure the movie, we thought it was going to be like the movies you had to sit through when moguls are trying to get you to buy a time share. But it was delightful. We has the entire (air conditioned!!!) theatre to ourselves, and the presenter was a priest who reminded me of a spoken word poet. He would be the guy next to Whoopi Goldberg trying to get the kids into Art History.

SO a very interesting movie while sitting in the air-conditioning, and super speedy access into a church. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I highly recommend listening to the ’60 Minute’ audio tour at the National Gallery. It contains all sorts of interesting nuggets to twist your perception of the art. For instance…

I had always assumed that The Entombment by Michelangelo was damaged. Like so many paintings, bits had simply fallen off or been badly repaired. Turns out Michelangelo just didn’t bloody finish the thing. After two years he got bored and wandered away. I mean, it is also a bit damaged – but mostly just not finished.

It is hard to imagine a modern artist having the same sort of future – a half finished painting getting pride of place in one of the worlds top galleries. Imagine Yves Klein only painting half the canvas blue? Or maybe the equivalent would just be doing one coat? Somehow, I just don’t think the National Gallery would have a bar of it.

The artist needs to reach mythical levels of fame before this could happen. Or at least be lucky in the history books.

So, if in 500 years time the art world judges you to have been a crucial turning point – your unfinished DIY project could be could be hanging next to The Entombment.