Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ostersonntag in Pisa und Mailand // Easter Sunday in Pisa & Milan | Italy, Part 3

April 5, 2015

We spent Easter Sunday in two of Italy most well-known cities, Pisa and Milan. Our bus dropped off us at the bus lot by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, located about a 15 minute walk away from tower. We had a few hours to roam freely before returning to the bus by 11:45a so that we could continue on to Milan. We followed the crowd from the car park to the walls enclosing the tower, not paying any attention to the route back to the lot (can you see where this is going?).

In my head I'd always pictured the Pisa tower as a free-standing structure with nothing around it, but instead the area is enclosed in a huge wall and several other buildings stand nearby. Within the walls are three buildings - the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a huge cathedral, and a wide, non-leaning tower. We of course started with the Leaning Tower, alternating between taking loads of cliche touristy pictures and helping others take their own photos.

When we'd had our fill of playing the tourist, we entered the cathedral and watched the Easter Mass. As it was all in Italian we had no idea what they were saying, but it was beautiful to listen to, and it was such a unique experience to celebrate Jesus' resurrection with so many others in a country I had never been to, in a language I didn't understand.

When it was time to leave, we set off in what we thought was the right direction to get back to the car park. After walking for five minutes we realised the area around us didn't look familiar, so we took a turn to the left, hoping that would steer us the correct way. Instead we ended up in a residential area. It was 11:40a and we had five minutes to make it back to the bus in time but we didn't have a clue of which direction to go. Wendy pulled out her GPS map on her phone of the area and located what appeared to be a large blank area, so we walked toward it hoping it was the bus lot. As we got closer we saw more people we recognised and knew we were in the right place. And of course after all our worrying that we'd get left behind, we weren't even the last ones to the bus.

We drove through the mountains to reach Milan and passed numerous, adorable little villages and fields in gorgeous valleys; Italy's untamed wilderness is incredible, and possibly the most beautiful area I have ever seen. We arrived in Milan a little after 2p and first stopped for lunch at a little eatery in the city center, one of the few places open that day. I went for the traditional spaghetti and ended with a hot chocolate (basically a cup of melted chocolate). We then set off for the Duomo di Milano, the huge cathedral at the end of the city center. After a short wait - and a small wardrobe adjustment to cover my exposed knees - we walked inside, right in time to hear a bit of their afternoon Easter Mass. Again, could not understand anything; again, beautiful to hear. 

We didn't know where to go after the Duomo as nearly everything was closed for the holiday, but we found an open building around the corner so we followed some people up a carpeted set of stairs and entered what looked like a free art gallery. Instead of paintings or sculptures like we'd expected we found a bizarre set of props, sounds, videos, and paintings in 7 or 8 different rooms, in a display that can only be described as a physical equivalent of Rob Canter's "Shia LaBeouf." It was clearly a genius expression of something more (emotion? the human experience? a crazy man's thoughts?), but indescribable to anyone who asked. After wandering around confused for 20 minutes, we made our exit and walked back to the main street where we spent the remainder of our time in Milan shopping and eating.

Though I felt like we'd had plenty of time to see what we wanted in Pisa, I do wish we had gone to Milan on a regular weekend when more places were open and we had more time to explore the outer neighbourhoods more extensively. That said, our long weekend in Italy was a success, and I have a number of beautiful memories from my time in one of the picturesque places I've ever visited, and I am already hoping for the day I can return.

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