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Winging it “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber, Philosopher

Pisa

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 15 January 2011 | Views [272]

After a night in Milan, I change my mind about Cinque Terra and decide to see that damn tower in Pisa then get the hell down to Rome to see about my luggage. I was staying in the South away from the tourist area and in the morning as I was heading out, the reception guy asked if I was going on th efree tour. Seeing as it was in my price range, I said 'sure'! I was the only one from the hostel going and no one was at the other pick up spots so I had a personal guide and was able to ask any thing I wanted without seeming wanky, it was great! The tour guide was a native Pisan lass with an arts degree majoring in history and art and was fabulous in her depth of knowledge. Wandering through the streets, I was informed about art, architecture, the rise and fall of empires and the cause of the rivalry between Pisa, Florence and  Livorno which still exists today. Pisa is a university city of ~100 000 people, half of which are students which has resulted in a young and vibrant environment, eateries, entertainment and activity late into the night. Yes we saw the tower which was pretty cool but a highlight for me was finishing with a mural by Keith Haring on the wall of Sant'Antonio 'Tuttomondo' (1989). He was invited to come to the city to paint what would be his last public work. THe priests gave him free reign to do what he wanted without even seeing the plan for his work. Keith himself was concerned that the people of Pisa should enjoy his work which was quite different to what you would wxpect for the area. He asked one of the art students to go and ask the little old lady who lived next door if she minded the work and she responded that she loved it. Although he had worked all over the world, he felt that Pisa was the place that welcomed him and felt like home. He died a short time later from an AIDS related illness. I think this exemplifies what an amazing, forward thinking city Pisa is, to embrace the diversity of art and people and encorporate it into a unified package.

I could seriously live in Pisa- one hour from Florence and Cinque Terra, great food, cheap, beautiful, fascinating  and so much more than a tower!

Hostel: Hostel Pisa- clean, cheap, great kitchen, free internet, pool table, great location, friendly staff. Cons, close to the rail line so a bit noisy sometimes.

http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/italy/pisa/58428/

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