When you think of Pisa, there will be one certain thing that springs to mind. The famous leaning tower dominates everyone’s thoughts and the skyline of a city with so much more to it. The ‘field of miracles’ steals the headlines as tourists flock to gaze upon the Cathedral, Duomo and the tower as well as pose for that iconic, building supporting photo. The hilarity of hundreds of people trying to create the illusion of them supporting the tower is an incredible sight on its own as they bumble about trying to establish the perfect angle for their photo albums. Being instructed by their travel companions to move left a bit then back right a tad as they struggle to get in the right place, is quite the whimsical routine and a good bit of entertainment. Once you get past the army of poised sightseers and the main attractions and further into the city is when you can really appreciate the amazing city.
From the comfort of our bike saddles we explored all around the town square and back streets as well as up and down the banks of the River Arno. The colourful buildings hidden away in the dense, old town don’t get the recognition that the grand tower does but it is in those buildings that you are likely to stumble upon a delicious pizza parlour or a small Tuscan bar. The picturesque river is a great way to see the city as it cuts straight through the centre, with bars and restaurants lining the sides of the cycle path we decided to take. Cycle path is a generous term as it wasn’t really a path at all and more of a ‘scenic detour’ that involved carrying the bikes over some obstacles and crouching under the bridges. After proving to Bani in a small drag race that I was in fact the faster cyclist we eventually found the old market place in the town’s main square before heading back to the campsite. It was’t long before we were back in the square as that night we commenced our own little bar crawl. After an evening of sitting around the van drinking whatever cheap booze we found in the small Italian off-licence we headed for the centre again. On this occasion it as my travel partner who was a ridiculous mess as I chased him through the ‘Field of Miracles’. In superb form, he developed a new game of running up to strangers posing for the iconic photo and trying to help them ‘prop up the tower’. In this incredible series of photobombs he would stand next to the random tourist, hold his hand next to theirs and shout ‘push’, ‘we can do this’ or ‘c’mon your’e not doing anything’ before running away to the next unsuspecting customer. By the time we had made it through the hot spot he had tired himself out and required some pizza to refuel.
As he stood behind the counter of the pizzeria, using his slow, Italian accented English to try and communicate, he closely inspected the makings of the pizzas (he literally had his face about 2 inches above the creation) before trying to cook his own, which was the point he was escorted back around to the customer side of the shop- In all fairness he make us a great pizza. By the third bar on our self toured bar crawl his new trick was revealed again as he made his way behind the bar to help the friendly barman create our next round. Using all his concentration and all his drinking experiences he concocted a delicious, yet deadly mixture of most of the spirits and juices he could find, as well as a shot of each of them and he even bought one of his new cocktails for the barman, who refused it and handed it back for Bani to drink. Then time eventually came for the bar to close and Bani to be returned to the punter side and out the door. It was at the exact moment we got through the doors leading onto the square that his legs stopped working. My thought process was to fight fire with fire and so I got him a shot from next door, put his arm round my shoulder and began the walk back to the safety of the Van.
‘How much did I chunder and why am I naked?’ were the first words Bani could muster when he awoke the following morning, followed by ‘where is my phone’. The reason he was naked was that he had ran away from the campsite security guard all the way to the showers where he tried to wash his drunkenness off, before passing out on the airbed. His phone was quite literally a ‘phones throw away’, just a ringtones distance from us as we called it before recollecting that he did actually just throw it away from our set up. The question of chunder was answered in a rather disgusting way when we sourced the rancid smell around the van. As I lifted the lid of the sink to wash up my breakfast I gagged, turned and ran from the blocked mess I discovered, as Bani’s dinner and beverages greeted me. When I returned an hour later, Bani, compete with a pegged nose and gloves, was still cleaning the remains of his disaster zone. Pizza, and a lot of it, was needed to refresh us from what was frankly an outstanding time as we laughed about another great, drunken night in a city we didn’t expect to deliver so highly on the bar front. It was summed up pretty well by my extraordinarily hungover accomplice- ‘Pisa- go for tower, stay for the nightlife’ a slogan that is sure to see him land a job in their tourist office, and was a rare occasion that I could see his degree in marketing actually being passed.