Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pisa and parking problems

Looking at the map of Pisa, we found plenty of parking options. The reality however is slightly different. Yes you can park a car in Pisa. Plenty of parking areas where, for a fee, you can leave your car behind. On a motorcycle it's slightly more complicated… The designated parking areas don't allow motorcycles… don't ask me why, we asked but got no reply. All the other parking areas seem to be 'operated' by loud and unfriendly Africans. There are parking spaces in the streets surrounding the tower of Pisa too, but these are all 'operated' by Africans as well. Looking at their faces, their behaviour and attitude I wondered if they just wanted to offer us a parking space, for a fee, or simply hand over the bikes. I didn't have a good feeling about them at all… no way was I going to leave my bike there. There are dedicated motorcycle parking areas in Pisa too, they are free but Vespa size and all full… 

It's amazing that what is basically a shoddy building job, became a tourist attraction. According to my information the tower already started leaning during the build as the foundation was built on soft ground. Instead of rectifying the mistake properly, which would have cost a serious amount of money, it's now bringing in loads of tourism dollars every year! Funny world ain't it? I don't really know how or why there are so many Africans in Pisa but they dominate the street view. Here I was thinking the leaning tower of Pisa is Italian but it seems to be owned by the Africans. They are the ones controlling the parking areas, selling the Pisa souvenirs and they are the ones pestering you at the square to buy sunglasses, watches, belts and everything else I don't need. 

We found a parking spot perfect for motorcycles at the Piazzale Sicillia (N43.72466 E10.39699). The car parks there are for residents only but on the square itself you can park bikes, bicycles, scooters etc. From the Piazzale it's only a short walk to the leaning tower of Pisa. Despite the parking hassles, a visit to the tower is worth it. If only to see all the tourists making the same photo: taking weird poses, pretending to hold the tower or push it over. 

The Pisa Cathedral and Baptistry of St John are on the same square. For those who want to see it there is also a monumental cemetery; not a tourist attraction I would think, but as even the world's most famous prison is now a tourism hotspot… what do I know! Getting in and out of Pisa is a fine example of 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do'. In other words, don't stand in traffic jams forever but follow the scooters… i.e. ride around the cars and merely see them as obstacles. It doesn't matter if that brings you on the wrong side of the road, do not slow down for oncoming traffic and stop only for traffic lights if you absolutely have too. It made our visit a half-day trip instead of a week :-)

We had some time up our sleeve and thus decided to visit a museum… and not one with stuffy old paintings but a museum dedicated to a man who hated motorcycles :-) More in the next post!