Tuscany Driving, Part II

by Andrew Stein

Our first destination today is Pisa, where I have the chance to revisit its famous leaning tower.  Soon after arriving, the sky opens up and it starts to pour.  We avoid some of the rain in shops and some more with a cafe dopio.  It does eventually begin to clear and the sun even shows itself.  The area around the tower, duomo and chuch is a zoo– the zoo’s animals beings tourists and the cages being ropes.  Although not long after my last visit just a couple weeks ago, being back in Pisa feels a little like walking around my college campus well after graduation.  I am there in a new context, with new people, with new goals, and places with attached memories seem changed.  I enjoy being back, but everything seems strangely familiar.  After all, I was only there for 24 hours the time before.  Pisa is our main stop of the day, but we still have more of Tuscany to see before returning to Lucca.

The Arno in Pisa

Our next stop is the Marina di Pisa, a small town on the water that is logically close to Pisa.  The town feels like it used to be a hotter vacation spot than it is today, and in fact, the town was mostly built in the late 1800’s and then more in the 1930’s.  That said, our quick visit is not the best judge of Marina di Pisa’s popularity because the wind is strong, the sky is still cloudy, and the temperature isn’t warm.  People may be hiding from the elements.  After Pisa, we do a drive through of Tirrenia and a gelato stop in San Giuliano Terme.  San Giuliano Terme, according to Frommer’s, is a reminder of the 18th and 19th century golden age, when its hot springs were renowned throughout Europe and drew some famous visitors.  Today’s drive features more windy mountain roads, more tunnels, and more bridges, picturesque enough to encourage me to try to snap a couple photos from behind the wheel.

San Giuliano Terme