Italy Vacation 2003
Day 14, Saturday, Oct. 18th

Today we leave the lake district and head for Florence. Along the way we stop briefly in Milan and, for a bit longer, in a rather wet Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Because of the way the map I'm using was set up, it was necessary to break todays journey into one large and one small map. Here's the first one.

The first part took us from Baveno to Milan. As many may already be aware, Milan is the big commercial city of Italy with over 400 banks alone. Many manufacturing plants exist around Milan as well. It's also famous for fashion, and the La Scala opera house. It also has a very large Duomo that ranks up there in importance with St. Peter's in Rome . It also has worlds first covered shopping mall. Here are some pictures of Milan.

I believe this is a statue of Leonardo da Vinci. His famous painting The Last Supper is in Milan but we didn't see it. The world famous La Scala Opera House. As you can see, it's being renovated. Leonardo is at the right, keeping an eye on it.
This is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This supposedly is the world's first covered shopping mall. There are four arms (two can be seen here) connected in the centre by a circular dome that can just be seen in the centre of the picture..
Another of the four arms taken from under the centre dome. Gee, those golden arches are everywhere aren't they!!!
A final view of the X shaped Galleria.
The Galleria from the outside.
The Duomo, a Gothic cathedral, is located just to the right of the previous picture.
One description calls the look of this cathedral "lacy". Made of marble, there are literally hundreds of small statues around the outside.
Statues, statues and more statues.
Pinnacles, pinnacles and more pinnacles.
One of many stained glass windows.
The altar area. It is very dark inside.
More of the altar area with organ pipes.
One of the transepts.
From one side at the front looking toward the back. The exposure was long as the blur of those 2 people in the lower left indicate. From about 3/4s of the way back looking towards the altar.
This is what the cathedral looks like from several blocks away.
Here are some additional facts: it is 146 meters (479 ft.) long and 87 m (284 ft.) wide. It's up there with St. Peters in Rome or Seville, Spain's cathedral, as among the worlds biggest. It was begun in the year 1386. It's considered the best example of a gothic style cathedral in Italy.

When we finished in Milan we headed south and then a bit west through the Apennine Mountains to Pisa, arriving around mid afternoon. The trip through the mountains was very scenic and ultimately wet. It was virtually impossible to take any pictures. Once through the mountains, the weather changed and it became cloudy and rainy. The first few pictures below show the mountains we drove through and then the very wet pictures at Pisa.

The Apennine Mountains that we had just passed through. More Apennines. The white areas are where marble is (or has been) quarried. A supplier of marble is in the foreground.
The best known feature of the Duomo are these bronze doors. There are three sets. One of the other sets of doors. One set is from 1180 and the others had to be replaced after a fire in 1595.
This is the Baptistry. It was begun in 1153.
And here is what everyone goes to see, the Leaning Campanile of Pisa. Ok, so it's the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Here's me taken by Paula with my camera. Here's me taken by Paula with her camera.
The cathedral and the tower. The tower was started in 1174. The tower was intended as a free standing bell tower for the cathedral. The cathedral with its bell tower. The tower would be 55 m or 180 ft high if it didn't lean some 4 m or 14 ft off perpendicular.

One additional piece of information about the Leaning Tower is that it is eight stories high. It apparently started leaning sometime after the completion of the third story. The towers builders discovered that the ground under it wasn't rock but water soaked clay. They stopped construction for something over a century. Apparently they thought that they had stabilized it so they then completed the final five stories in the late 14th century. As is well known, they did not succeed in stabilizing it and there was a major effort between 1990 and 2001 to get the lean under control. They used a series of lead counterweights, cables, soil extraction, horizontal boring and the injection of concrete to stabilize it this time. It is now stable enough that it's open to the public again.

We left the very wet Pisa for Florence (Firenze) arriving there around 5:30. Here is the map for the last section of todays journey.

We had dinner in the Sheraton Firenze Hotel and a quiet evening. Tomorrow we will see the sights of Frienze (or Florence if you prefer.).

On to Day 15.

Originally Created: February 5 & 6th, 2004
Final Edit: February 18, 2004 4:23 PM