Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Benvenuto a Livorno!

@ Port of Livorno, Italy

"Ciao e buongiorno a tutti.  Benvenuto a Livorno!" *

Hello and good morning everybody. Welcome to Livorno!

Livorno is one of the main cruise ship ports.  Situated in the region of Tuscany.  Not a major tourists destination but it is where the tourists from the cruise ships or the ferries visiting Tuscany pass through to other major tourist destinations like Florence and Pisa.  It makes Livorno one of Italy's great seaports.  There were many ships,  ferries and boats at the port.

Upon arriving our tour buses are already waiting.  We were greeted by Elena the tour guide and Paulo the driver.  The first half an hour of introduction, Elena mostly talked about herself of why she took the job and so on.  Lesson learnt.... People do not like to hear us talking about ourselves!  So, because of that, I did not get much information about Livorno through her.  What a waste! 

Rows of buses waiting for us.
We were driven straight to Pisa which is 45 minutes away from Livorno.  Since my group and I (known as The Yunos ) were seated behind, most of us especially the men had a good nap.
A short nap.

Pisa is the capital city of the Province of Pisa.  It was founded in the 13th century.  It is situated by the bank of River Arno and 10 kilometers away from the Ligurians Sea and 80 kilometers west of Florence.  Those days Pisa was actually by the sea and was a port but because of the silt deposited by the river and accumulated, Pisa is now away from the shoreline.  So that is when Livorno came into the picture. 

The atmosphere in Pisa is very different.  It reminds us of the Arabic and the Byzantine style.  It was inhabited by the Lingurians and the controlled by the Romans as naval base in 180BC.

Pisa is most famous with the leaning tower (the bell tower for the city's cathedral).  Built in 1173.  The tilt happened during construction because the ground was unstable composed only of clay,  fine sand and shells.  The constructions stopped when the it began to tilt after completion of the second floor.  It was left for 100 years because of war.  Then the construction continued to the seventh floor and realized the tower tilt again.  They stopped the construction again.  They only completed building in 1370 but the tower still sinking on one side.

Since the completion, many engineers and architects all over the world monitored and tried to correct it.  After so many attempts of different ways and at last in 2008 they announced that the tower had been stabilized enough that it had stopped moving since the construction began.  It is said that the Leaning Tower of Pisa will be stable for the next 200 years!   Come to think of it, Pisa is only the  bell tower for the church and yet it is more famous than the church. Who is the boss?  Hahahahahhahhaha.

We have to walk quite a distance to the leaning tower from the parking.  The road is so narrow with so many tourists. The weather is so hot and dry.  So, the minute we got off the bus, surprisingly many Banglas and Africans came running to us to sell umbrellas.  But being Malaysians, we are so used to the kind of weather so we just walk .... in the hot sun ... sweating like nobody's business and deep inside cursing myself for not buying the umbrella.  Hahahahhahha.  Actually I should have bought it as a souvenir.  As we walked, we passed by many houses and buildings.  One that attracted me most was a house with Jasmine plants.  The plants acted as the fence to the house.  I love the smell of Jasmine very much.

Smell of beautiful Jasmine.

Before reaching the tower, you will pass through rows of stalls selling gifts and guess who is selling?  The Malay speaking Banglas .... hahhahahha.  It seems like they are all over!.  They are now the world travelers! 

Coconuts, which we use to extract the milk for cooking are sold as titbits.  I remembered my Arwah Mak scolded us when we grabbed a bite of the leftovers little portions of coconut.  She said we will have worms in our tummy.  I grew with full of imaginations. When I was a little girl, I love imagining things and sometimes it was scary.  Once I ate water melon and swallowed the seeds.  That night I was unable to sleep because I imagined that the plant will grow in me and out through my ear!  So, worms in my tummy! No way!  So because of that, no coconut for me.  But actually it looked very inviting and tempting to see how it was displayed here but Mak's words kept me away!  But Italian Gelato is a must for me ..... all sorts of flavour.... banana, nuts, mint, mango, coffee and many more!  I'm in heaven!!!!!

Coconuts anybody?  

Gelato of different flavours.
After visiting Pisa, we were driven to Florence. The famous statue David by Michelangelo is here in the museum. We skipped the visit because, there was a very long line to enter and we have too little time.  But some did ... not The Yunos. Elena took us on another long walk to the Piazza del Duomo or the Cathedral Square which is situated in the center of the historic Florence.  It  took 140 years to complete the Cathedral  with many architects who took turns after the death of the earlier ones. Humungous!

 There were so many tourists around and we were all very tired. The heat already took it's toll.  Tired, hungry and thirsty!  We found a nearby cafe with access to the internet. Again a Bangla served us.... We had Magarita Pizza and lots of drinks and enjoyed the free wi-fi. 



Resting while enjoying his pipe.
We ended our tour of the day in Florence by walking to the bus through the train station, Stazione Santa Maria Novella. It is a national and international train station in Florence, Italy.  It is one of the busiest station in Italy. 

The train station.
I kept thinking about Pisa and the Cathedral of how a long lasting building need to be completed not in a year or two but hundreds of years and many architects and engineers involved.  They are not only building structures but history as well.  We call it built to last.  

Another human structure which was built to last is Masjidil Haram in Makkah which started with the building of Kaabah by Prophet Ibrahim a.s  and his son Prophet Ismail a.s.  As he was building, Prophet Ibrahim made dua so Makkah will grow and prosper.  His dua was granted by Allah SWT.  Renovations are still going on until today.  MasyaAllah!  

@ Kaabah in Makatul Mukarramah
After visiting Pisa, it reminded me of our very  own leaning tower in Teluk Intan, Perak.  It stands 25.5meter tall and was built in 1885.  It tilt after four years of construction due to an underwater stream.  Originally it was used as a water tower supplying the area of the town. It is also as a beacon to guide ships into Teluk Intan Port.  It has a clock on top which rings every 15 minutes. 

@ The leaning tower of Teluk Intan, Malaysia

It was a very tiring day for us.  The basking under the warm Mediterranean summer can easily change a person's mood! After the long walking, suddenly you tend to lose your smile.  But things changed as we headed back to the ship.  From afar, we can see that the crew were waiting for us with ice cold drink and a refreshing cold towel and not forgetting the big smile on their faces.  It was a  very warm welcome indeed.  Phew..... 

Refreshing cold towel.

As we entered the ship, all our bags were scanned and x rayed.  No food,  fruits or alcohol from outside are allowed even if the fruit that you had in the bag was taken from your breakfast table. Very strict indeed!  I felt safe.  Now, we all are looking forward for the sun set and dinner!


"Addio Livorno e arrivederci a presto Chivittavachia!"*

Goodbye Livorno and see you in Chivittavachia soon

*.....pssssst I used the translator from my iPhone5.  Everything is made easy for us now.... hehhehehheh

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