by Senior Airman Katherine Windish
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/27/2012 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- When I first heard I was going to be stationed in Italy, I created a mental bucket list of all the great places I would travel to during my tour. Pisa was definitely one of the first items on my list.
Coming back from a recent weekend trip to Cinque Terre, my family and I decided to make a stop in this world famous city and enjoy some lunch and a stroll before starting the six-hour drive back to our home in Sacile.
Our first stop in the city was, of course, the Piazza dei Miracoli, the home of the Leaning Tower, the duomo, the baptistery and the Camposanto Monumentale. While the square was full of tourists taking the obligatory "holding up the tower" photo and gypsies selling knock-off sunglasses, it couldn't detract from the astonishing beauty of the ancient buildings.
The city of Pisa has a rich culture and history, dating back to its golden age during the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries when it was a formidable maritime power. The prosperity and creativity of that renaissance is embodied in the white marble of the Piazza dei Miracoli.
When visiting the Leaning Tower, tourists can also choose to hike the nearly 300 steps to the top and take in the gorgeous view of the ancient city.
After viewing the square, my family and I decided to stop for lunch and a little shopping. There are several restaurants close to the piazza, all with great views of the tower. We decided upon a great little ristorante with outside seating. With the Tyrrhenian Sea close by, the seafood at Pisan restaurants is fresh and delicious.
There is also an outdoor market available almost daily, featuring souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, local food products and more.
All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon trip for the family, and for someone with more time there is certainly plenty to offer throughout the city. In addition to the Piazza dei Miracoli, tourists can visit the city's more than 20 historic churches, take a walk along the River Arno or stop by the University of Pisa, one of Italy's most well-known colleges since the 12th century.
For more information about other Italian and European destinations, visit http://www.aviano.af.mil/library/travel/index.asp.