Travel Journal, Part IV
07/11 - Monday
And again, I woke up very early and got in a train, this time, my destiny was Genoa. I arrived around 10am. I was suspicious that the hotel was far away from the city so I left my luggage in the station and went for a walk around the historic center.
Genoa is located in the region of Linguria and it is a port city and it looks more like the old stereotype of an Italian city than any other I have seen before. I was enchanted once more. Each city has a special charm, it is amazing. Genoa looks like one of those old cities that just came out of a fairy tale book.
Well, Columbus was born here so his statues are basically everywhere. There is the ocean museum and old boats (like the ones used around the 14th century) in the port. I wanted to enter one, but nobody was there so I just assumed it was forbidden.
I walked all the way to Ferrari's Square and found the famous fountain that wets all tourists. First, the whole square is a fountain, you are walking and when you less expect water shots out of the ground.
Next, I walked to the Duomo di San Lorenzo, but since today is Monday it was closed and I could not go inside. Actually, I could not go inside any museum or church, I did not go inside Palazzo Ducalle and not in Sant' Agostino's church.
I just saw the exterior of Porta Soprana,
the ruins of Sant'Andrea, the Palazzo Bianco and the Palazzo Rosso. I wanted to go inside those because they?re famous for having beautiful gardens. They are placed in front of each other at Via Garibaldi.
When I saw everything I wanted, I got my bags and went to the hotel (which was a charming old building in a small street with the view straight for the ocean). Since it was early still, around 5pm, I decided to go walk around the port.
On the way there I crossed the Chiesa della Annunziata del Vastato, which was completely breathtaking. Unfortunately I couldn't stay there for long to analyze it better because it was closing.
People go there to sit, read books or simply sunbathe. There is a small floating bridge that leads into the ocean, when I got to the edge I turned around and saw the whole city there. It's really a small city and looks perfect for resting. It's calm and quiet, like it's always the weekend. On top of the hills are lots of castles. I'm curious to see if they're abandoned or even haunted, but the sun is already going down and I doubt I could get there without a very expensive taxi ride. So, this is the end of another wonderful day.
07/12 - Tuesday
Now, the trip gets a little faster. I'll spend each day in a different city and at the moment I am in Bologna (it's midday already!). I left the luggage in the station again and ate in the less expensive place in here: Mac Donald's. After lunch, I walked around the city. It is completely medieval. It is located in the region Emilia-Romagna.
I passed through the famous Fontana di Netuno,
Palazzo del Podestà which was built around 12th or 13th century. I walked. I passed around Piazza Cavour which have two tombs in pedestals. I still don't know to who they belong, but I thought that was the most interesting thing I saw until now. I returned to the center, passing through the Porta Ravegnana which is where the two most famous towers of Bologna are placed. The towers are called Asinelli and Garisenda.
I heard somewhere that these towers were mentioned in Dante Alighieri's book Hell. The Asinelli Tower is the forth highest in Italy and I just found it out when I was climbing all the stairs up to the top. I never climbed so much in my life. Do you have any idea what it is to climb for thirty minutes straight? It took me thirty minutes to get to the top, how many stairs were there anyway? Around 500 I think? The steps were slippery and almost would fit my feet (which are small). I was scared because if I slipped the fall was around 102m/334 ft.
I still wonder why I didn't get dizzy when I looked down all those steps? I think I'm not scared of heights at all! Inside the tower everything was old, dark and somber. Strong waves of wind shot up from the ground all the way up (It didn't help the fact that I was wearing a skirt). After climbing everything I had a beautiful prize: the view of the whole Bologna with its red-tile roofs. It's an amazing sight. I have no idea how long I stayed up there, but the sun was already going down when I got back in the streets.
Since I was really tired, I got in a taxi and went straight to the hotel, which was in a mountain. It's very beautiful up here and the pool is opened for the night, so I'll go for a swim.
07/13 - Wednesday
I'm in Pisa! It's the smallest town until now. You can't find anything else other than the tower (and the Duomo, Batistero ans the Cemetery, but they're all part of the tower square, the famous Campo Dei Miracoli.)
From the train station I saw the red flag of the tower and followed it in a straight walk of ten minutes. I saw an American there, the poor guy was lost. "Where is the tower?" He asked me and I just smirked and pointed to the sky "Follow the flag, dude." I think he hadn't looked up because as soon as he did he saw the flag and blushed.
Now the Pisa Tower was getting close and I was feeling weirder and weirder each step I took towards it. I mean, I had studied that tower since I was in elementary school, I head so many stories about it and somehow it didn?t seem to belong in my world, it was something unreachable and there I was, ready to see it with my own eyes.
The Campo dei Miracoli is amazingly beautiful. It's green and white. The batistero and the Duomo were finished in the year 1063, along with the tower and they are spoken to be the most romantic place in the whole Toscana. Inside the church are uncountable arches and one small glass box with human bones crossed in an X, just like a pirate flag.
After that, I entered the cemetery, Il Camposanto. It's famous because many travelers in the renascence stopped there to admire its beauty, the statues and the white tombs. Indeed, the artworks in there are splendid. I just wonder why it was bombarded during the Second World War (who is insane enough to have a cemetery as a target? Duh!), the paintings were almost completely destroyed, but they're still very beautiful in a dense white marble structure.
I finally climbed to the Pisa Tower. I found out that this one, even if it's smaller, it three times worse to climb. Since it's completely in marble, the steps are very slippery and because of the inclination there are some times when you feel you are about to climb the walls instead of the staircase. I climbed as quickly as I could because I couldn't wait to get on top (The tower has 294 steps.). Well, let's say that when the inclination is 16 feet you can really notice that you can lie down on the wall.
I got to the top, I touched the flag, and stood in the same spot Newton was to test the gravity. I held myself up in the sides and was really scared of falling down; I mean... it was a slippery ground! I looked around and I was sure that Campo dei Miracoli is the most beautiful square in the world.
When I was in elementary school I never really thought that someday I'd see this tower and... well, here I am.
07/14 - Thursday
I am in Siena! Toscana all the way baby! I just didn't expect the station to be so far away from the center of the city. I bought a map and started walking around the city.
Siena is a maze. There were thousands little streets and all of them seemed to lead to Piazza del Campo, the biggest medieval square in Europe. It's very beautiful there and there are lots and lots of good restaurants around the square. I decided to have my lunch there, of course.
I noticed that there were many different flags around the city and so I asked the waiter about it. He told me that there were 17 flags and each one was the symbol of a church that used to fight each other? actually they decided that the fairest fight was the horse race which is the famous Palio di Siena. The race last just 90 seconds and it is the biggest party in Toscana.
Anyway, the first thing I saw in Siena was the church San Domanico (after I almost went deaf with those stupidly loud bells). It has a gothic structure and many paintings, but I thought it was kind of empty? outside has a beautiful Tuscan Garden, red and yellow flowers that I didn?t see anywhere else in the world.
On Piazza del Campo, which is a semi-circle, there is the Gaia Funtain and the water comes from an aqueduct that is 500 years old. It was the perfect place to get some water because it's really hot here today. I think it is weird because unlike in Brazil I don't sweat at all but still I drink from 4 to 5 liters of water each day!
In front of the fountain is the Palazzo Pubblico, the city hall, built in 1342. From there I went up the Torre del Mangia, which is the second highest in Italy.
The Duomo was my next target, it is wondrous, beautiful. It is all back and white with stripes in the horizontal, with a frisk made out of popes' heads' statues in marble. The ceiling is different from all the Duomo?s until now; it was built to look like an evening sky, not like the ascension of the angels.
Most of the artworks inside are copies; the real ones are in the museum just across the street, Museo Dell'Opera del Duomo. But aside from this place, Siena doesn't have an important part in the history of art (well, not significant like the other places). This is a city where the time has stopped. Each street is a trip to medieval ages. The street market, like the one in Piazza del Marcato, is a tradition that started centuries ago.
I decided to not sleep in here. I called the hotel in Florence and asked if I could arrive a day before and they agreed so, I got my bags and got the train to Florence. I arrived in the night and was ready to fall asleep; I didn?t even bother having dinner.