Posts Tagged ‘Assisi’

MY EUROPEAN TRIP PART 11, PISA, ASSISI, ITALY

Here I am again. Hi !

So, I’m now in Pisa. Pisa is a city in Tuscany and the capital of the province of Pisa.  Although Pisa has several places of interest and history going back  at least thirteen centuries B.C. , it is famous for the freestanding belltower of the Cathedral. . Though there’s an ancient city in Greece called Pisa, historians are not clear whether this area ‘s civilization is  of Etruscan or Greek  in origin. Italy’s history is complicated because it used to consist of  so many kingdoms that were entirely separate from Rome.  Italy that we know today did not exist then. Venice, Florence, Rome…. they each had their own thing going on.   Pisa is also the birthplace of Galileo Galilei. If you have not heard of Galileo, then you’re an alien.

I was , naturally, very excited to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and it didn’t disappoint me. It was  awesome.  Actually , the belltower is just one of the  4 buildings at Piazza dei Miracoli, or Field of Miracles. But images of  it  give the impression that the tower stands alone. Well, it doesn’t. Just a few steps from it  are  the  beautiful Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Camposanto. ( cemetery )

Below is a pic of  our tour group ( and me ) at a pit stop. We were all ready to go, quite refreshed and perky.

.

There’s the Baptistry the Cathedral, and the Belltower. They are all made of white marble, and yes, they are all  sinking. The fact is, there are also at least 2  other towers in Pisa that are leaning.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise beacuse Pisa, after all, got its name from the Greek word Pisa, which means marshy lands.

.Construction of the tower began in  1173 and was completed in  1399. The tower tilted during construction due to the soft soil and inadequate foundation. Construction was halted for almost 100 years. This allowed for the soil to settle and compress , making it a bit stable. However,  the tilting continued prompting the Italian government  to seek help from engineers and mathematicians from all over the world.

.Over hundreds of years,  it became clear that the tower was not only leaning, it was actually falling, at the rate of 2 millimeters a year, and at one point, was in danger of toppling over.

.

.Today, the tower is about  3.9 degrees off perpendicular  or about 5 meters off.  Nonetheless, the tower has been declared stabilized and will remain so for the next 200 years.

.

.The Baptistry above was where Galileo was baptized.  We wanted to see the Cathedral’s interior but we were not properly dressed. Dress code : no shorts. Well we didn’t know  we were going to visit a church..  So, my cousin and I just goofed around outside while the rest of the tour group were inside the church.  Not fair.  But, we had plenty of time to shop for souvenirs. There was  a row of  colorful souvenir stalls  just across from the piazza. I wish I had taken a pic  of that. Very touristy.

.A nap after a tiring day.

Next day, we went to Assisi,  a medieval town and the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, whose members vow to a life of poverty.  Together with St. Clare, St. Francis is the patron saint of Italy.

Pastoral scene on the way to Assisi.

.It was the Romans that built the town of Assisi  on a series of terraces. The population is about 25,000.

.

.

.It may not look it, but that was quite a steep climb to the top.  I was out of breath when I reached the top.

A souvenir shop along the way

.There’s the church of St. Francis. He is also buried there.  It’s a pity we couldn’t take photos of the interior. But, there was a Mass going on, and  it was Sunday, so we decided to attend it . So now I can brag say we heard Mass in Assisi.

.

Above is the main door of the church. That’s the only part  that has elaborate designs. The church is simple, inside and outside. It was, after all,  built in honor of a saint who lived a simple and humble life.  Right above are 2 Franciscan monks.  Or are they friars ? Priests maybe? I wonder what the difference is between a friar and a monk. * googles *………. Friars are those who can get out of monasteries , and some are ordained into priesthood, and therefore can say Mass. Monks are those who are cloistered in monasteries and abbeys and brew beer. Kidding !  But beer afficionados swear they brew the best beer in the world.  I suspect monasteries don’t have heaters, so alcohol trumps hot coffee to keep one’s body warm and toasty on cold , winter nights.   However, I’ve seen Benedictine monks  who go outside, and even seen them smoking, he he he. Okay, let’s not go there.  * ponders *   I wonder why we Catholics  use the word ” hear ” instead of attend the Mass ( we hear Mass ) and the priest who celebrates the Mass ,  we say  he  ” says” the Mass. It makes sense though.  I mean, say and hear  go together, right?  Just musing.

.I didn’t capture the beauty of the scenery, and the place  really looked  so serene.

.This is  it for Pisa and Assisi.

It feels weird that while I’m gushing over Pisa and Assisi, and talking about serenity, I’m watching the news about the Israel and Palestinian conflict. I’m not going to say what I think about this. I won’t even say something stupid like Why can’t they get along . They’ll never get along, but can’t they just leave it alone? Who are we to say that, anyway ? Heck,  our own Democrat and Republican politicians can’t get along. That said,   I wish the US would leave Afghanistan , NOW , not in 2014. We spend 6 billion dollars a month for  the people of a country  whose hearts and minds  we can never win.  Just leave them alone  and let them do what they want . If they want to kill little  girls who want to go to school, so be it.  Can I say freely,” Frankly, my dear,  I don’t give a damn.  ?  Would they  be happy with that?  We need that money here in the US.  Can you imagine what that $ 6 B can do here in the US ?  Sentido comun.  Spend it on us, on the people of Staten Island, the homeless, on education,  renewable energy, so we won’t be hostage of  foreign oil.  Here;s the thing though. I have a co-worker  who is an Afghan woman. She married a US born Afghan -American soldier who was deployed in Afghanistan.  Her family in Afghanistan was so happy, especially her dad, that at least one of his children would have a better life here in the US. The problem is, her relatives in Afghanistan are harassing her family, especially her mother and sister.   She sends half her salary to her family there, and she’s so afraid what will happen to them when the Americans leave.  Oh, and she cried and cried when she was promoted as manager, the keyholder,  at our store. She said this would never happen  to women in her country.  * sigh * I don;t know. I’m so conflicted.

Here I go again, speaking my mind.  This is supposed to be a travelogue, ahaha.  Oh, well.  * shrugs *  I guess I’m like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna read here. he he he.

Alright, this is all for now.  Florence is next…. and Monaco ( maybe ) G’day to all, and PEACE !