The Pisa Fiasco

So we were driving from Firenze to Levanto on the A11. It was around lunchtime, and we were getting hungry. A friend had told us that Lucca was a good place to stop, but the exits came upon us before we made a decision. I think we hesitated because we wouldn't have known where to go. We should have taken that as a lesson.

I have never used a GPS before, but I felt that I should bow to technology in this case. We didn't have any detailed maps, so I thought a GPS would be prudent. The rental agency suggested that we get in-vehicle wifi instead since we had GPS and mapping capability in both an iPad and an iPhone. It cost less. We thought it was a good idea.

Sadly, neither the iPad GPS nor the one in the iPhone seemed to work as well as we had hoped. Same for Google Maps. They were fine at the macro level, but when it came to details, not so much.

Still, we thought we would brave Pisa. Using TripAdvisor, Sweetie had found what sounded like a really good Turkish restaurant. It was somewhere near the Torre Pendente, a.k.a. the Leaning Tower. We thought we should be able to navigate toward it. And yet it seemed that every time I made a turn, it was wrong, and we had to reset and try again. Pisa is full of one-way streets and "you can't get there from here" spots. Once I found myself driving toward a government area where cars weren't allowed, yet getting out of that area was not easy. We crossed the river in both directions several times trying to find our way, all while trying not to have any close encounters with Pisa drivers.

We were getting really hungry (and cranky), and our plans weren't working. We found ourselves heading back out of town toward the highway. I was thinking that we would not find any decent food if we kept going, so I decided to turn around and try again. And what happened? Almost a duplicate of what had happened the first time, including finding myself driving toward the government area. Every time I'd see a "Torre Pendente" sign with an arrow, I would not see another, and I'd be stuck. Unbelievable. It seemed that we just weren't going to solve the Pisa puzzle.

By this time, we were starving. I stopped at what seemed to be a place we could get panini, but they showed me some frozen items. Grazie, no. I kept driving, kept getting more and more lost, and finally found another bar. This time, there was fresh food to be had, pizza or panini. I ordered two panini to go, waited for a bit, and then brought the food to the car, where we decided that any food (and the panini were pretty good) was better than no food.

Having finally got lunch, we drove out of town again. We were stopped at a traffic light when we looked right. There, across several kilometres of open space, we could see the Torre. It was like a great big middle finger taunting us. I wish we could have snapped a picture, but traffic started moving again, and we lost the chance.

No Turkish food. A good hour and a half wasted. Stress levels high. But we found our way easily to the A12 (which runs toward Genova) and proceeded on our way. Maybe someday we'll see the tower up close and get some of that Turkish food. I have a feeling that the only way to do that easily is to go on a tour bus. At least then someone else has to navigate and drive.

1 comment:

Coline said...

We thought we had worked out Sienna but got lost at night as the population blocked streets and had BBQs! Eventually we gave up and I pulled up to ask some police if they could help which is what you would do in the UK.

My partner had the best understanding of italian amongst us so had to do the asking. The poor guys were totally confused when a woman came up to their group casually posing with their machine guns whilst against their car. We got excellent directions but my partner was totally unaware of the confusion she had created or that they were even posing with machine guns in public!

We found the tower in Pisa but with ugly fences around it...