Shopping Tower of Pisa
people think of taking a trip to Pisa,
they usually have in mind the famous Leaning
Tower, classic architecture and the renowned works of
know that I always have ... until my last visit to Pisa with
I admit it. I come from generations of women unable to pass
up a bargain. My husband still jokes about how I found the
99-cent stores on our honeymoon in Paris. If you put the women
in my family together on a desert island, we would be able
to find a kiosk selling coconut shells and grass skirts. Italy
is a shopper's paradise, and we discovered that Pisa is a
mall in the shadow of beauty.
traveled from our apartment in Florence
to Pisa by bus. The public transportation in Tuscany is
excellent. The buses run often and they are pleasant and comfortable.
Fellow passengers are happy to point out the sights and are
full of wonderful hints on what to see and where to eat when
you arrive at your destination. Besides removing the stress
of driving on strange roads, they provide a beautiful view
of the countryside as you ride along the banks of the Arno
and into the Tuscan hills.
Waiting at the
Bus Station in Pisa
the bus let us off in Pisa, we waited for the connecting bus
to take us to the Piazza
dei Miracoli. We were eager to see the Baptistery, the
Cathedral, the Leaning Tower and the Camposanto Monumentale
and marvel at the stonework and engineering that is renowned
throughout the world. We were definitely not planning on any
shopping during this day tour.
trip was a treat for my husband Joe, a stone carver and lover
of all things Gothic. A man whose idea of being a good consumer
is spending ten minutes or less in any store. After days of
wandering with us on one shopping expedition after another
he had earned a reward. He was getting a day filled with classic
Gothic beauty in the Tower and other sites in the Piazza with
no shopping on the itinerary.
approached the arched entryway to the Piazza and had the first
hint that our plans were about to change. The space is filled
with tented stores. Many sell trinkets and souvenirs, miniature
replicas of the Leaning Tower and shirts proclaiming that
you were in Pisa. We didn't have time to truly explore the
shopping possibilities here, but we were not impressed with
the selection that we did see. Joe was happy and we were convinced
that there would be no buying sprees in Pisa.
at the Piazza dei Miracoli
we walked through the arch. The Tuscan sun played on the Piazza.
The Torre Pendente di Pisa, the leaning bell tower that is
familiar as one of the great wonders of the world stood before
us. The domed Baptistry
with its triangular jewels of stone carving drew murmurs of
awe. The white marble of the cathedral contrasted with the
dark green lawns. The Camposanto Monumentale with its rows
of limestone carved arches completed the square. This beauty
was the reason for the trip and pushed the thought of shopping
from everyone's mind.
across from the Camposanto and the Cathedral was a line of
stalls that drew the attention of the shopoholics in the group.
This was prime shopping. True there were trinkets and sweatshirts,
but mixed in were some real treasures.
admiring the tower, taking the necessary tourist pictures
and making a quick tour of the other buildings, we left our
Gothic fan to wander through the stonework at his leisure
while we turned to some serious shopping.
stall was a complete store. The shopkeepers were true Tuscan
natives, friendly and willing to bargain.
discovered tooled leather bags that rivaled those we were
familiar with from New York's Fifth Avenue shops. Armani figurines
and other exquisite ceramics were on display. Rows of Pashmina
scarves and shawls in soft colors to match their texture were
impossible to pass by. Tuscan pottery and crafts filled many
of the little stalls. The prices were much less than what
we had seen in Florence and Rome.
the time the setting sun began to turn the buildings an unearthly
shade of rose, we had reassembled to begin the trip back to
Florence. At the end of the day we were all tired, but happy
with our discoveries. Joe had several rolls of film to remember
the day. The rest of us were carrying a different kind of
treasure. We were loaded down with shopping bags bursting
with memories of the great shopping in the shadow of Pisa's
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