Certosa di Pisa, and the football....

Trip Start Jun 23, 2012
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Trip End Jun 30, 2012


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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, June 24, 2012

After the travelling of Saturday nothing was going to happen fast on Sunday. Unfortunately the heat of the night (which obviously we're not used to!) resulted in a less than brilliant sleep, so I got up early and wandered into the village, which was silent, save for the miaowing of half a dozen stray cats being fed by an old woman outside the church....

On my return I managed a quick swim, and then had to rest for half an hour as my body wasn't used to the exercise! By this time Liz was up, and we decided to head out while the rest of the household slept. I had discovered (in the Rough Guide) an interesting-sounding place called Certosa di Pisa - "of the thirty Carthusian monasteries left in tact in Italy, none makes a more diverting excursion than the vast fourteenth century Certosa di Pisa...."

On consulting my trusty map, I spotted that the monastery was actually (apparently) very close - just the other side of the little mountain range (Monte Pisano) we look out to from our terrace. What I hadn't quite realised was that the drive OVER the mountain would be quite so tortuous. Anyway, it was a beautiful morning, and just about our only companions on the road were numerous cyclists all proving themselves possible Tour de France (or perhaps Giro d'Italia) competitors. Although several seemed rather portly, their legs still seemed capable of taking them up vertiginous slopes to the peak.

Eventually we reached the monastery. Here we discovered you could only view it by taking a guided tour, and we were about 35 minutes too early for the next one. We thought we'd fill the time by nipping back to the little town nearby to do some food shopping for our planned barbecue in the evening. Asking the three ladies who between them were selling entrance tickets elicited a full scale debate amongst them on the merits of the local shops, before they eventually settled on sending us right at the roundabout, and then left (or was it right?). Anyway, needless to say we failed to find the shops, but the little excursion filled the time nicely so when we returned the tour was about to begin.

There were about a dozen of us in the group, mostly Italians, but two other English couples. As the bells from the local church chimed for 11.30, out popped a small, rotund, Italian in his late 50s (possibly older) who was to be our guide. He apologised for speaking no English, but luckliy one of the Italian women in thr group did a little ad-hoc translation for us as we went around - she was delightful.

Apart from the magnificent exterior of the monastery, which is impressive in itself, the next "wow" is the interior of the central church, completely covered in frescoes, all of which are original - there has been no restoration). The tour takes you through 11 other chapels within the monastery, where apparently Mass was heard simultaneously every Sunday.

There were numerous other highlights of the tour, which felt very special - just the dozen of us on a "private" viewing in this huge, beautiful, very peaceful, building.

For our return we found a quicker route back, which skirted the mountain. Whilst we were out Chris & Katie had been to the supermarket for some barbecue essentials, and we settled down for an afternoon by the pool. Late in the afternoon I ventured down to the local bar and enquired if they would be showing the football later in the evening - and obviously the answer was SI!

Chris and Katie did a sterling job of preparing the barbecue, and Chris manned the barbecue itself, and we timed our meal perfectly for a leisurely stroll to the bar just in time for kick-off. The bar had an extra outside seating area just across the road, and the bar owner had rigged up a large TV in that area, with the wires trailing across the road! This area was obviously reserved for those who were eating, so Liz, Olivia and Lydia sat on the little terrace immediately in front of the bar, whilst Chris Katie and I watched the match with the "hard core" locals inside! At half time we joined the others on the terrace, and the bar owner came over and gave us a complimentary bottle of prosecco....when I asked him why, he said "because we are English"!! It possibly added a little to everyone's enjoyment of the evening that they had a few English guests in their midst....

Anyway, after the inevitable defeat in the penalty shoot-out there was an exuberant reaction in the bar, and outside, with much tooting of horns in time-honoured Italian style. Despite the loss, it was great to be there - in fact, I would have felt rather guilty had we won, given the lovely Italian hospitality (and the fact that our football was rubbish!)
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Comments

M & D on

Sounds wonderful. Pleased a sleepless night does not stop you from making the most of the day. The prossecco - very nice gesture. John could not watch the second half of what was supposed to be a FOOTBALL match.

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