Be prepared for a boatload of pictures!!
We had a wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel. But b/c of the late sun rising we could only go to the beach after our breakfast...well, if we wanted to actually see the sea, that is. ;) Which left us a grand total of about 20 minutes before the bus left. We ran down to the beach which is on the Ligurian Sea which is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea.
Then we headed into Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo Galilei, "Father of Science". Pisa is an ancient port-town at the mouth of the Arno River in the region of Tuscany. Of course, we were headed to see the famous La Torre di Pisa. Construction on the tower began in 1173 and started to sink in 1178...only 5 years later! If you notice in the pics, you can see how the base began sinking before construction of the tower was finished. The next level was attempted to be straight on a crooked base. The tower took approx 200 years to be completed. It was closed in 1990 and attempts were made to the foundation to keep the tower from leaning any more. When it was reopened in 2001 it was claimed that the tower was safe from toppling for another 300 years. Currently, the top of the tower is 12ft, 10in from being center. Anyway, the tower is actually the bell tower for the cathedral of Pisa. In the square there is the cathedral, baptistry and tower. When we first got there it was just after 8am and very foggy.
The baptistry is in the foreground, then the cathedral and then the tower:
As the morning wore on we got better views:
Unfortunately, we couldn't go into the tower, cathedral or baptistry (we heard it has great acoustics)...they were all opening up as we were leaving. Boo. So, we then shopped around. We did get the requisite plastic tower...that was David's purchase. :) Charlie purchased a pen that has a map of Pisa wound up in the inside. So he can pull it out (in a scroll fashion). Cory ended up w/ a marble statue of St Michael for only 5E. No, we don't believe it's marble. ;) And I couldn't pass up the leaning cup of Pisa.
So, we hopped back on the bus for the drive to Roma. We drove straight to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, Official Website. The catacombs are the underground burial places of Christians (and Jews) during the time of ancient Rome. There are no longer any bodies there. ;)
Inside the basilica (the next few pics are from Lawrence OP on flicker.com...my motto for this trip was if my pics don't come out or I didn't get the pic, I'm sure I can find it on photobucket or flickr):
Saint Sebastian for whom the catacombs/basilica are named. He actually did not die from the arrows, though that is how he is always portrayed.
The ceiling is wooden
David and Cory lighting a candle to Saint Sebastian
We then headed to our hotel to check in. The thing about hotels in Europe, in my limited experience of course, is that the rooms are small, at least in our price range. We had to get 2 rooms, one w/ a king bed for Cory and David, and Charlie and I had a room w/ 2 twin beds. I wish we could have had connecting rooms, but we didn't. So, Cory and I had to each take a boy. LOL Our room But we did have nice views:
B/c David was not feeling well, we opted to stay at the hotel that evening. Unfortunately, the hotel was in an area of town that there were no restaurants or cafes. If we had gone anywhere we would have had to take a cab, so we went to the bar in the hotel. Our tour guide, Stefan, had told us it was expensive, but we had no idea!! David had a hamburger/fries, Cory a club sandwich/chips, I had a salmon sandwich/chips, Charlie had fries and we all had a soda. Can you guess how much that cost us? 72 euros which is approx $105 dollars. I am not kidding. So, that was our Christmas Eve dinner! LOL But we were together in Rome...not a bad gig overall. ;)