Thursday, February 09, 2017

Squires Do Europe - La Spezia, Italy

Day 8 - La Spezia, Pisa & Florence, Italy - August 17, 2016

When we woke up this morning, we were now in Italy.  We had hopes for a big day, so we tried to get an early start.

The Mediterranean Coast at La Spezia.

The cruise docked on an industrial port, so we had to take a bus from the ship to the cruise terminal.

We were still a couple of miles from the train station when the bus dropped us off.  We were in a hurry, so we grabbed a taxi to take us to the train station.

None of the ship's excursions had the option of both visiting Pisa and seeing Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, so we decided to try our shot at visiting both on our own.

La Spezia is about 90 minutes from Pisa and Pisa is another 60 minutes from Florence, so we were up for a long train ride.  When we arrived at the train station is was quite crowded. The express train that I was hoping to take was already sold out, but I was able to get tickets the next train. I bought all of our tickets at once (including our return tickets) to save time on the back end, and to make sure that we got tickets before anything sold out.

Alison spent her time on the train doing hair,

and reading while the girls played their Kindles.

It was a long ride, but not a bad one.

Finally the train stopped at the Pisa station. We had about 40 minutes between trains, so we had to hurry a bit.  Above is our first view of the famous leaning tower.

We're about to enter onto the Piazza del Duomo.

The leaning tower is not so large, but it is still awe-inspiring and one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

The Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower.

Family selfie.  Apparently Lyla was in pain.

Obligatory photo.

We couldn't stop taking photos.

One last picture as we're running to catch our train to Florence. We got to the train station just as the train was pulling into the station. Perfect timing (but a little too close for comfort).

On the Ponte Solferino over the River Arno.

We made it to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. Once again, we were in a rush.  We only had two hours in Florence, so we were determined to make the most of it.

We walked from the train station to the Academy.  For most of our stops on cruise I was a poor planner, so we made last minute plans each night before our next stop.  Late last night I tried to get advanced tickets to the Academy to see David, but the tickets were all sold out.  We knew that we didn't have time to wait in line, but I was able to find a third-party reseller with tickets available at the perfect time.

Miraculously the tickets I purchased late the night before got us right into the Academy.  It's not a large museum, but we were only there to see one large naked man.

My friend David.

The girls aren't terribly familiar with the male anatomy (no baby brothers), so this was quite the learning experience for them.

Left side.

Butt side.

Right side.

One more family selfie with Dave.

Hump Daaaaay!!!

Walking on the Via Ricasoli from The Academy to the Firenze Cathedral.

One more walking pic because I like it so much.

Our first view of the cathedral.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Or Il Duomo de Firenze).

This Cathedral is huge. The brick dome is still the largest brick dome in the world.

The baptistry.

The Piazza della Repubblica.

Looking out over the Ponte Vecchio.

Another view of the Ponte Vecchio.

On the banks of the River Arno.  It was now time to head back to the train station.  We had far too little time in Florence.

Piazza Santa Trinita.

The well worn lions at the Museo Marino Marini on the Piazza di San Pancrazio.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.

We made it to the train with just a minute to spare.  Our timing with the trains was miraculous on this trip.

We had purchased some Italian pastries to hold us over on the 2 1/2 hour train ride back to La Spezia.

Sunflower fields in La Spezia. I wish the heads had been turned towards us.


The marble mines of Carrara.

Once again we grabbed a taxi from the train station to the cruise terminal. Kisses.

The cruise ship had so much amazing art.  They claimed to have more pieces of art than the Louvre.  While I can't vouch for that fact, by mine and Alison's guesses, they easily had 25,000+ pieces.

The industrial port at La Spezia.

Our lovely ship.

The view through a telescope at the front of the ship.

We dropped the girls off at the Kids Zone again, while Alison and I spent some lovely time watching the sunset together.

Looking up at the waterslides.

Today was a total scramble as we ran from one place to another, but it was so fun to take my girls to see the famous sites (I've been to both Pisa and Florence before).  These girls are some lucky ducks.
Tomorrow: Rome!

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