Pisa by dawn, pain by night.

Posted: 4 March 2011 in Europe, Italy

When we left Nice, we decided to take an overnight train to Pisa. We figured this was a great was to save money that would have been spent on a hostel or hotel for the night and “reclining seats” sounded perfectly acceptable. Here’s the problem: Italian trains suck. Yes, they do. We sat on a three person bench, which had a slide out seat, but no reclining back. The bench across from also sat three people and when both parties slid themselves forward our knees would collide. Needless to say, it was by far one of the most uncomfortable nights of sleep I have ever had. If you decide to go overnight on a train, I highly encourage you to book a couchette. Couchettes are bunk beds. You can lay flat and get a full night’s rest. The train to Amsterdam had reclining chairs, but since it was German and not Italian, they were more like cocoons that made it easy to rest. Much better than the first fleeting attempt at a Lazy-Boy, but not as good as our bunks to Munich.

Despite the awkwardly painful night–including scare tactics about being robbed in Genoa–It was certainly worth arriving to our next destination, Pisa, early in the morning.

I love Pisa for its simplicity. It is an unassuming town, with regular people, who just happen to have a legendary landmark in their midst. (I’m referring to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in case you grew up under a rock.) If you happen to arrive early in the morning, as we did (5:30 am to be exact….) you’ll be met with a crisp air and a serious lack of tourists. The good news is you will basically have private access to the grounds, and you can run around to take as many pictures as you want without having any strangers blocking your shot. The bad news is that the sun will be on the wrong side. That makes it more difficult to get the classic “look at me holding up this tower” photo. There is also a beautiful church to see on the grounds, and a nice coffee shop to take an easy morning at. It was the first time I ordered a cappuccino in Italy, and it was about the only Italian I spoke. It was great. Small. But not everywhere serves trentes!

  1. When I was in Pisa, I was a little embarrassed to take one of those “Look ma, i’m holding the tower” pics, but then I got there and there was a line to stand in just the right spot. So I was like, “We’re all tourists here, why not.” So I did and it was fantastic. When I traveled I always tried not to look like a tourist, but in Pisa,we’re all tourist. lol

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