You Want a Pisa Me?...Come get Some
Yes, that is literally the view from our hotel window. Better tell you how we got there, eh...
Although we didn't realise at first and somewhat dumbly thought that an awful lot of towns had a main road called Via Aurelia, we eventually twigged that the coastal route running from Genoa right through to Rome is part of the 2000 year old Aurelian Way, or later extensions of it. So, apparently, all roads do lead to Rome (apart from the A917 which goes to Pittenweem).
Read more here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_Aurelia.
Don't read more here - http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Pantera_Rosa_%28cartone%29.
What Wikipedia doesn't tell you is that the road will from time to time push cyclists faster and faster on dualled sections and faster yet when those sections become contraflows. Fast lorries and fear lend wings to your pedals.
In Pisa, we had the strange experience of visiting a monument that is so burnt into your subconscious from countless photos, TV shows and films and yet, in real life, still strikes you. The Torre Pendente's incredible lean, partially correcting halfway up, is like looking at an optical illusion you know can't be trusted and yet is still there in front of you. What pictures can't convey is the sheer mass of the tower somehow defying gravity....that's before you get inside!
The tower's winding and narrowing spiral staircase is like being in a fairground funhouse, just one that is made of stone not inflated rubber and has been there since 1174! As you go up, your balance keeps shifting to accomodate the lean making you sway from one side to another. God knows how unnerving it must have been for visitors before they finally stabilised the "mysterious disease" in the 1990's.
As we had a rest day scheduled, we took advantage of Italy's trains that run on time (thank you, signor M), to take a day trip to Siena, home of the Palio horse race. Although we're not there at the right time of year to see this spectacle, we can appreciate how crazy it must be when you see how cramped a course (on cobbles!) the Piazza Del Campo, the main square, would be for the 10 horses.
Day 58.7km (Total 1430.3km)
P.S. We took a million pictures of Siena but you can't see them yet.