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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Florence and Pisa in one day......

This was the third day in a row that we had excursions planned. As such, it was even more difficult to get up, knowing that we had a full day of walking and sightseeing ahead. But, get up we did.

First dilemma of the day ..... Kylie purchased a WiFi hotspot that we could use in Europe. So, I was making extensive use of it. So much so that within the two days we had been touring, I had already used 2 Gig. Look - I used a lot of data. But, there is NO WAY I could have used 2 Gig. I had this sneaky suspicion that there was some sort of update happening on my phone and I was right. I clicked on Settings, then Photos and Camera and noticed that iCloud Photo Library was ON. For both of us. What does this mean? Here is the description immediately below "Automatically upload and store your entire library in iCloud to access photos and videos from all your devices."

So, I immediately think 'No, I don't want it to do that.' So, I turn it off. Then a warning message pops up and tells me that all of my photos will be deleted from my phone. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Fortunately, every night, I have been moving all the pics from our phones to my computer (which we brought with us). But, Im not ready to have ALL of the pics deleted. Ill sort it out when we get home..... and we will have to deal with Kylies 18,000 photos soon too. lol

Anyway, now that we worked out why the phantom data was disappearing, we were ready for the day ahead. Pisa up first. Wait, first..... the tour we booked today was with the same company as the tour from the day before in Rome. Our guide from yesterday had called ahead and said 'There are some crazy Australians on your tour that you need to look after.' And, so our guide for today was Eliza and she was also awesome.

We had some time to get a coffee in the port building, so we did. I was just amazed at EVERY cafe/bar there is ALWAYS a large selection of Amaro. What is Amaro? Amaro (Italian for "bitter") is an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. Many of the varieties on show I have sampled at my parents place.

Hahahahaha - Fonzies. 
On with the day.... have you been to Pisa before? From the bus, it is a bit of a walk to the 'Field of Dreams' or 'Field of Wishes' or whatever the thing is called. And, as soon as you step off the bus, there are people there to sell you hats, sunglasses, selfie sticks, water, handbags ......

Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 89,940 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. So, I expected to see a tower. But, was amazed to see how many other buildings in this area.

This is such a spectacular sight! It really is leaning (as the title suggests). The weather was beautiful! There were thousands of people there to share the day with us.

Here are some interesting facts about the tower (thanks Wikipedia);

The height of the tower is 55.86 metres from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres on the high side. The width of the walls at the base is 2.44 m. The tower has 296 or 294 steps (no, unfortunately we didn't have time to climb). Prior to restoration work performed between 1990 and 2001, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but the tower now leans at about 3.99 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 metres from the centre.
When we were planning, Kylie always remembered a photo of her mum at Pisa taken 44 years ago when she visited. It was the obligatory shot at Pisa. So, we recreated it (or attempted to)

'Not even close Bruno!!!!'

It is not as easy as you think ....... 'Move your left hand, rotate it, move it up, down ...... no - the other direction. NO!!!' Eventually, we got it.

Like I said, we weren't the only ones there. Everyone else had the same idea. And, its hilarious watching other people take the obligatory photo.

It reminded me of a page I saw called 'Travel Expectations VS Reality'



A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

As we walked to the bus, we saw some more familiar faces;

A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

Back on the bus and onwards to Florence. Sadly, later on we came to know that a few from the Stampin' Up! group over the course of the day had bags taken, wallets taken and money taken from their pockets from active groups that visit here. One demonstrator told us that she had separated from her husband for a moment and then later said she saw him telling off a 'pregnant' lady whose hand was in his pocket. Fortunately, nothing was taken from them, but I feel terrible knowing that such people were active while we were there.

By this stage, it was about 11am. Our guide also does a Food Tour in Tuscany, so she was talking about food. The guy I was sitting next to was a chef from New York and he was asking about where to get certain foods. So, as you can imaging, I was STARVING very quickly.

But, first, we saw Il Duomo di Firenze. Also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (in English "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers") is the main church of Florence, Italy. It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style with the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.

It is VERY impressive!

Our FIRST view through the streets

A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

But, even more impressive was the work of art directly across from this dubbed by Michelangelo as 'The Gates of Paradise.'

Here is a pic I found from Google;

But, after all this talk about food, it was time for lunch. We asked for some recommendations from our tour guide of where to eat, and WHAT we should eat. We were not disappointed. Throughout this trip, we have ordered what we thought would be small meals that turn out to be feasts. This was no different.

The tour guide said that this region is famous for Chianti - so of course we ordered it

Our 'small' antipasto plate. Afterwards, we realised that we had Chianti, Fava beans and Liver pate. EEEEEEEEEK!!!
I ordered artichoke pasta
Kylie ordered Black Truffle Pasta
We felt thoroughly obese after this meal. The only way to fix this is to have an amaro to settle the stomach.

And, then everything was ok. We met up with the tour group again..... but before we did, we did a quick video for you.

Florence is such a nice city. It just amazes the both of us that whenever you turn around, there is something beautiful. Here is a spattering of what we saw;

The 'leather markets' - Im sure another name of this market is 'Foreigners - Please come here and give us all your money.
A famous movie was set at the top of this tower

We FaceTimed Jessie while we were here - can you see her on the screen?

At one location, our guide stopped us and explained that she had been instructed to not mention what happened here because 'nobody needs to hear about this.'

Here is the Wikipedia article about it. There was a terrorist attack here. The mafia took responsibility for it. Six people were killed and parts of the nearby Ufizzi Gallery were destroyed.

An olive tree has been planted in honour of the victims.

We walked down to the Arno River and saw the amazing Ponte Vecchio. Kylie said 'Don't laugh at me, but it reminds me of when we went to Tokyo Disney.' It made me laugh - but I wasnt laughing AT her. At Tokyo Disney, there is a replica of the bridge and judging by the fact it reminded her of it, it must be a good replica.

Above the colonnade, this was apparently for the Medici family to walk because they didn't want to walk with the commoners. Hitler also used this walkway.

Lots of others had the same idea of going there today. It used to be full of butcher shops but now every store is exclusive jewellery.

Apparently, Leonardo DaVinci lived here for five years
 So, it reminded me of the photo I took of myself an applied a filter to make myself look like one of his works of art.

Can you guys which work of art?
One thing that we noticed around all of Italy was the presence of both Polizia and Carabineri. What is the difference? Hmmmm - Im not quite sure. Not even after reading this on Wikipedia. If you know, please let me know.

After another MASSIVE day, on the way home. Of course, I fell asleep on the bus. And, Kylie had fun taking pics of me.

If you follow my Instagram, you will know that we are now in Paris. We have AWESOME internet in the AirBnB apartment we are staying in, so hopefully Ill be able to catch up.

Thanks for reading.


  1. That is the first time my comment has registered as used my iPhone not pad so just to let you know am loving ur blog and great sense of humour plus the great photos Bruno.

  2. thanks BrunoB .... you are an awesome writer and LOVE all the photos!! That automatic upload thing happened to us last Nov. at the OnStage in San Diego... all of a sudden we were like double over our allowable GB plan... yep.. lesson learned.. turn off the automatic uploads for photos :)

  3. Great coverage of Pisa and Florence! Can't wait for your Paris blog! Have a great time!

  4. I don't know why, and maybe bc I missed much of Rome but Florence was one of my favourite cities in Italy. I think I also had the best ever gelato in Italy there :P your blog is bringing back all these memories of my European tour from about 12 years ago. I'm surprised I can still remember some things (I'm getting old :P). I'm surprised you guys didn't get the pickpocket warning in Rome. They were very active back then and I'd imagine even worse now. It's a shame ppl lost money/personal belongings :( I bought some nice unique mother of pearl rings in Florence. Haha at the pic of you looking like art!

  5. Elizabeth PentlandMay 31, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    Totally laughed out loud over the Pisa "expectation" vs "reality" pics.
    Loved the pics of Florence - always wanted to go there.

  6. Ahhhhhhhh😬 i cant remember my password for my instagram account 😭😭😭😭


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