Only an hour from Florence by train, Pisa should be high on your list of sights to see in Italy. The most iconic structure to see is Torre Pendente or the Leaning Tower, which was conceived as the bell tower for the splendid Duomo di Pisa (or Pisa Cathedral). Shortly after construction began in 1173, the tower started to lean due to the soft ground on which it was being built. Tower construction occurred in 3 phases over a period of 199 years.
the tower and the duomo
Galileo Galilei is said to have dropped two cannonballs of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their speed of descent was independent of their mass. It’s not known if this is completely true or not – but it does make a good story and demonstrates an important property of physics
Looking down into the top of the tower
During World War II, the Allies suspected that the Germans were using the tower as an observation post. A U.S. Army sergeant sent to confirm the presence of German troops in the tower was impressed by the beauty of the cathedral and its campanile, and thus refrained from ordering an artillery strike, sparing it from destruction. (you can read an account of this story here)
the stunning baptistry
Numerous efforts were made to stabilize the tower and it was closed for a long time for safety reasons. In 2008 it was reported by engineers that it stopped moving for the first time in 800 years and that it should remain stable for at least another 200 years.
inside the church
There is so much to see and do in this area of Italy – We can help plan the perfect GetAway for you – just call!
GetAway Travel is taking a group of clients to Florence in October 2015 and here is why.
“The Creator Made Italy from Designs by Michelangelo” – Mark Twain
And one of Italy’s greatest places to see those designs is in Florence. In Italy, all roads lead to Rome, but in Florence all roads lead to the elegant Piazza della Signoria – the location where Michelangelo’s statue of David was originally unveiled in 1504. (Yes, over 500 hundred years ago!) At the time this was also where the seat of the civic government of Florence resided. Strategically positioned, the eyes of David with his warning glare were turned towards Rome. In 1873 the statue moved to the Galleria dell’Academia, where it is viewed today. A replica statue now stands in the Piazza on the exact spot where the original once stood.
Politically, economically, and culturally Florence was the most important city in Europe for around 250 years, from before 1300 until the early 1500s. Florentines reinvented money, in the form of the gold florin. This currency was the engine that drove Europe out of the “Dark Ages”, a term invented by a Florentine. They financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, Lyon and Hungary. They financed the English kings during the Hundred Years’ War. They financed the papacy, including the construction of the papal palace in Avignon and then reconstruction of St. Peter’s and the Vatican when the papacy returned to Rome.
Florentines were the driving force behind the Age of Discovery. Florentine bankers financed Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese explorers who pioneered the route around Africa to India and the Far East. It was a map drawn by the Florentine Paulo del Pozzo Toscanelli, a student of Brunelleschi, that Columbus used to sell his “enterprise” to the Spanish monarchs, and which he then used on his first voyage. Mercator’s famous “Projection” is a refined version of Toscanelli’s map. The western hemisphere itself is named after a Florentine writer who claimed to be an explorer and mapmaker, Amerigo Vespucci.
The greatest banking dynasty family that ever lived – the Medicis were centered in Florence. From there they changed the world more than any other family. The taught the rest of Europe how to conduct state-craft. Their offspring married into and influenced rulers in France, Spain and England.
Florence had a profound impact on the world of art. While your children may only know them as names of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the artists Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino) Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni are all forever linked to Florence.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany – and you know what that means….Italian hill towns and amazing wine – but that will be the subject of a future post.
For example, it seems that every single Google app we use always seems to be in beta version. Not a bad thing as one can assume it will (hopefully) keep getting better and better.
Such is the case with our GetAway Travel Pinterest pages. Always room for improvement, but it is actually starting to look better. We have a wealth of great photos from our trips that we love to share to help inspire our clients. Eventually we will get more photos posted, but there is only so much time in the day – and – planning great vacations for you will always come first. For now, please enjoy and let us know what you would like to see more of.
On our “Places We Love” board, we’re messing around with the new Pinterest feature that shows on a map where all the pins are located.
We do have other passions besides travel!
Here is a very small fraction (so far) of wineries we have visited
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Rome? For most it is likely the Vatican, the Pope, Trevi Fountain or maybe the Colosseum. Well those are all great things about the city for sure, but what about the food!
In our humble opinion one of the best things about Rome and Italy in general is the absolutely most fantastic food in the world. Oh sure, you can go to a restaurant and order but do you really get to understand the heart and passion that goes into Italian food? We don’t think so, that is unless you get your hands in and actually feel the love, guided of course by someone who an expert.
Our choice is Chef Luisa who owns a private cooking school in Rome. Luisa, knowing every secret nook and cranny of the Roman food market scene, will show you the ropes of Roman cuisine and teach your palate flavors it has never seen before. Luisa’s cooking style is inspired by Artusi Pellegrino, the most renowned iconic Italian gastronome, food critic and author of “The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well”. Like Artusi, Luisa is a modern-day icon herself among the chef and culinary world in Italy and Europe. Imagine getting your hands in and creating a fantastic Italian pasta dish with Luisa’s help, then sitting down and sharing that masterpiece with her and some tasty Italian wine. Buon Appetito!
This custom tour starting in Rome, and then focusing on Tuscany is not available anywhere else. With just the right balance of history, renaissance art, amazing scenery, savory gastronomy and Italian wine – this is one tour you may not want to miss.
Our next information night is Wednesday, Jan 22 at Vino Etcetera in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Perhaps you have never heard of Oconomowoc – no worries, you can still get details on the trip at our web page, where you can also find the tour fact sheet and registration forms.
Please enjoy some of our photos from Tuscany and inspiring quotes on Italy in this Video.
In October 2014 we are hosting a very special small group wine experience to Italy with Vino Etcetera sommelier Corienne Winkels.
Our very first information night will be Tuesday January 7, 2014 at Vino Etcetera, 120 E Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, WI. Please RSVP (262-538-2140 or firstname.lastname@example.org) if you plan on attending. We promise lots of fun and perhaps even some Italian Wine!
So what’s so great about this trip? Only 24 people are going, so it promises to be an intimate and relaxed tour. And if you’re wondering how much fun we have – just ask anyone that went with us to Burgundy & Provence in 2013. Our France wine trip was a most memorable and fantastic time, with Italy shaping up every bit as amazing.
During our tour you will discover: The Eternal City – Rome, the worlds smallest state – Vatican City, the classic Tuscan hill town of Cortona, Umbria’s grand hill town of Orvieto, the picturesque renaissance town of Montepulciano, the small town with the powerful wine – Brunello, the medieval city of Siena and the unofficial capital of Chianti – Greve.
We have lots of wine tastings and winery visits planned – note these are not ones found on “normal” tourist routes, but quite boutique and hand selected just for this trip. Preliminary details are available on our web page, with more information coming soon.