This morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny day, got dressed and went to breakfast ( all anyone ate for dinner last night was done canned tuna and Melba toast- Olivia's suggestion). Breakfast was delicious with flakey croissants and Nutella of course and Emma enjoyed a delicious doughnut. The juices and fruits are so sweet and delicious- even the grapes taste like a completely different fruit. ( the tomatoes have been tasting out of this world as well). Teta decided to stay in the hotel and relax for the day and we all headed out to Pisa to visit the leaning tower. Emma gave us a great lesson on the history of the tower which we learned was built on a very unstable ground and was seen to be leaning from the very start of construction right after the construction of the second floor ( or piano on Italian). ( Emma also finally got an opportunity to teach is about the various Swiss languages by reading her PowerPoint) some other interesting facts we learned were that it took over 200 years in stages. We aren't really sure who the original architect was because no one signed it or took credit for it (designed in the 1100's). In 1960s it was reinforced and it was closed in the 90s for fear it would collapse. Over the years it was stabilized in many different ways- counterweights, a tower added to the top leaning in the opposite direction and bells added....
When we got there we followed the other "Idiot" ( with jido pronunciation ) tourists in taking pictures holding up the tower or kicking it down. It was lots of fun. Next we bought tickets to climb the tower which we had to wait an hour for so we walked around the museum until then looking at some modern art and old biblical frescos that used to hang somewhere in the area that we haven't figured out where. Next we needed to use the bathroom and walked along a long path to find it but couldn't use it because it cost half a euro which we didn't have. ( I hope we could get away with no European cash for the day!- still saving up the cash from tetas bank account for the tours!) When our turn came to climb the tower Olivia freaked out because she was wearing her healies and wanted her flip flops which we left in the car and she was too tired to walk up...eventually Hannah convinced her and we climbed the tower which felt very tilted and nauseating. Everyone was nagging and complaining but we made it to the top and walked around it a few times looking at the beautiful view trying to see Ronnie from above. The girls had fun counting the stairs on the way down - a total of 294. Next we went to buy water from a local Mc Donald's- we couldn't buy from the souvenirs vendors because they don't take credit card.... And got in the car to drive to Florence.
We hurried to get to the kosher restaurant which was going to close at 2:30. We made it by 2:00 and climbed up the stairs to an interesting place called Ruth's. The staff was very friendly and gave the kids games and crayons to keep them busy. We ordered pizza, pasta falafel and a fish platter which were all pretty good. Next we went to the Florence synagogue which was down the block. It is surrounded by a huge metal gate and protected by guards. We had to leave our bags cameras and cell phones in a locker and went inside.
Our first impression is that it looks like a church which was pretty accurate since it was built in the 1800s right after the enlightenment began and Jews could build synagogues out in the open and were excited to be able to assimilate and copy churches.
We learned the difference between emancipation synagogues and ghetto synagogues ( built to be unidentifiable from the outside ) before the 1800s. From 1500s -1800 Jews were required by law to live in ghettos. It was built in a moorish style very shocking to Italy in that time and very ornate and colorful. There was a pulpit and organ to copy churches but only for decorative purposes. The Jewish community was not near the synagogue because it was still largely based in the ghetto. At the time the Italian Jews did not agree with the style of those building it ( Spanish Jews) so they prayed in different rooms and minyanim for the first few years- typical.
In 1943- nazis occupied northern Italy and deported 100 Jews to Aushwitz and nazis used the synagogue as a garage and tried to blow it up. They failed but damaged it a little. In the
1960s a flood of a few meters damaged it and it they were still restoring it until 1995. Now we are back in the car on our way back to Viareggio singing frozen songs from Aida's phone at the too of our lungs- Ronnie included. I have blackmail video...tonight we hope to relax and get some much needed rest and eat the meat we bought from Ruth's this afternoon after kiddush. Tomorrow we will hang out by the beach and pool and have a great day!!!! Shabbat Shalom! We miss you all! Thanks for your messages- we are so glad you are enjoying the blog!