Norwegian Epic cruise – Livorno port stop (for Pisa and Florence)

 

Livorno is one of Italy’s largest ports and it is from this stop which most cruise passengers disembark their ship and head for Florence or Pisa or both.  The port itself isn’t that attractive and I must admit we didn’t even really consider having a wander around it as we had already decided to book on to one of the organised trips to PisaThe coach journey from the port to Pisa was about an hour and we decided that we would risk Mini ATWWAH having to behave for an hour there and back on the coach.  We booked on to a morning trip which gave you a couple of hours to look around Pisa at your own leisure.  The coach journey there was a bit of a trial keeping him amused although if he stood up on his window seat he was happy enough looking out and then destroying one of the maps which the guide had given us.  I’m not sure his shouts were too popular with some of the other people on the coach but he was just excited and asking a 14 month old to be quiet is a bit pointless.

The tour guide on the coach did a lot of talking but she was interesting, and gave quite a lot of history on Livorno and Tuscany in general and there was a lot of chat about wine and cheese.

As we approached the coach park I remembered why I hated organised trips.  There were so many coaches there and groups of tourists with their tour stickers on.  We were all herded along by our tour guide to the meeting point for getting back to the coach later on.  The walk from the coach park to the Piazza dei Miracoli ( or Square of Miracles, where the Leaning Tower is) took about 15 minutes.  There were so many hawkers at both the coach park and the Piazza, selling umbrellas, scarves, toys, ‘leather’ bags….we weren’t particularly harassed, I think Mini ATWWAH may have put them off with his shouting.  I saw quite a few people off our trip though being followed by hawkers which must have been really irritating.

Once our guide was confident we all knew what time to return and where we were left to our own devices.  The first thing I did was take my sticker off, much to Mr ATWWAH’s amusement.  Neither of us had been to Pisa before and we were quite looking forward to seeing the Leaning Tower.  For anyone who doesn’t know the Leaning Tower got its name after its architect, Bonanno Pisano, began building the campanile in 1173 but a layer of shifting soil meant it tilted.  The tower had tilted every year since it was built and was closed from 1990 to 2001 due to safety concerns.

You can go into the tower but it’s advisable to buy tickets in advance as only 40 people can be in the tower at one time so the queues are huge and there are 294 steps to reach the top so it’s definitely not pram friendly.  Under 8’s are not allowed.

Naively I didn’t realise how busy it was going to get around the tower and doing the obligatory ‘pushing the tower upright’ photo was embarrassing enough but when hundreds of other people are also doing it then it sort of takes the shine away.  The tower was smaller in height than I imagined but it was definitely impressive and also weird to see a sight for real after seeing photographs of it over the years.

leaning tower of pisa

What did we do before digital cameras and the many attempts for the iconic photos????

Master ATWWAH refused to acknowledge it as the ‘leaning tower’ and only referred to it as ‘the tower that tilts’.

leaning tower of pisa

Got it, sort of……

Equally impressive, if not more so, are the Pisa cathedral and Pisa Baptistry buildings and there are some immaculate lawns which they stand on.  You can go inside the cathedral and Baptistry but need to get tickets.  We didn’t go into either as the queues were huge and we decided to just enjoy the sunshine instead and explore outside.

Pisa Baptistry

The details on the Pisa Baptistry

We had a wander to the Palazzo dell’Opera, a complex of houses, which were first inhabited by the workmen of the cathedral complex.  Some of the rooms are now used as offices and a few house temporary exhibitions which you can visit.  We went to the one being used as a gift shop which had every iteration of the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a souvenir that you could think of.

We found a sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf, a she-wolf suckling two human infants, of which there are a few statues around the world.  The sculpture is inspired by the founding of Rome and according to the legend is based on a she-wolf who rescued two infants from the Tiber River who had been ordered to their death.

It’s definitely worth a visit to Pisa and if Mini ATWWAH wasn’t as young or as fussy about being in his pram then we’d definitely have headed to Florence too.  Instead once the coach dropped us back at the ship we headed back onboard for some late lunch and fun at the kids pool.

It was great to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa for real.  Where have you been most impressed by when you saw a tourist attraction ‘for real’?  Or where was the most disappointing? 

If you enjoyed this post you may want to try one of these:

Norwegian Epic cruise – Naples port stop

Norwegian Jade cruise – Dubrovnik and Split port stops

Norwegian Jade cruise – Athens and Kusadasi port stops

 

 

 

6 Comments
  1. I was hugely disappointed by the pyramids of Giza. Much smaller in real life, next to Cairo city centre and reachable by metro. Not by camel ride through the desert 🙁

  2. I was hugely disappointed by the pyramids of Giza. Much smaller in real life, next to Cairo city centre and reachable by metro. Not by camel ride through the desert 🙁

  3. Hi! nice photos! I liked the Leaning Tower, I climbed it, but the views from the top were a bit disappointing (apart of the view of the cathedral and the baptistery, but the view of the town is nothing special).#Monday escapes

  4. Bet (and as I can see) Pisa is overcrowded with tourists, but still wanna go. To Florence too. Thanks!

  5. Sooo nice!! When I first visited Pisa I also thought that the tower was higher, I was kind of shocked hahahaha. I went up there and I must say that I found the stairs pretty crazy, ahaha you feel like you are falling to the side! 😀

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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