Monday, June 18, 2007


Regina and I decided to take a trip to Pisa to see a Regatta. Pisa is a one hour train ride from Florence, and the Regatta was supposed to start at 5 p.m. We met at the train station at 3:00 and purchased tickets for a train that departed at 3:30.

The train to Pisa was very hot, and we slept most of the way there. We were happy to find that once we arrived, the temperature in Pisa was much cooler than in Florence. We made our way towards the Arno where the race was to be held. By the time we got to the Piazza, it was about 4:45, but there was no one there! We went to one of the street vendors and inquired about the Regatta, and the starting time.

We were in the right place, but the Regatta did not start until 7 p.m. we learned, so we decided to visit the Duomo and the Leaning Tower, and to have something to drink. We had both been to the leaning tower before, but it seems no matter, you aren’t prepared for how much it is actually leaning! I know that everyone has seen photos of it, but when you are there in person, you would swear that it will topple at any minute. That is so, even though they corrected it somewhat a few years ago!

This time was no different. Taking photos of the tower is difficult because you want to try to straighten it in the lens. You have to keep the ground level so that the actual tilt shows correctly. Of course there are angles of the photos that show better the degree of the lean than others. I wanted to take photos of the people taking photos. Of course, you must know someone who has visited and has a photo of them or their travel partner "holding up" the leaning tower! There are rows of people with their hands in the air trying to get just the right angle so that it will look like they are supporting the tower. Regine firmly told me not to even ask!

We found a café and sat down to have something to drink and watch the crowd which was growing. There was a calcio (football) game on the TV and Pisa was playing, so occasionally you would hear a roar from the gathering crowd.

At 7 we made our way back to the river and found a spot along the bridge to view the Regatta. Italians have their own way of dealing with time. The fact that one paper had said the race started at 5 and then we were told it started at 7 is no first time occurrence. At 7, the crowd had grown and we begin to see the fire patrol, coast guard, and other vehicles needed for the safety of the race on the river. The crowd continued to grow, and once the football game was over, banners came out, horns started to blow and cheers were heard from the crowd. We didn’t know if it was because of the football game, or the boat race!

We stood and watched and waited. There were 4 crews of boats and they went up and down the river to warm up a few times. At 8:30 or so, the race started! The race took about 15 minutes, and was a real let down! An announcer was on a loud speaker giving the blow by blow, but there wasn’t one moment of excitement or tension!

After the race, we headed back to the train station. The train was crowded, but not so hot at this time of the evening. We got on the train, but had to sit in the jump seats in the aisle for a little while until enough passengers had departed for us to secure a regular seat.
This is what it is like when you are in Italy looking for adventures. Sometimes you find them and they are fantastic, and sometimes they aren’t. Live and learn.

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