Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13, 2011 -- Today we were off to Pisa by train. Francesco and I spent the morning working on one of his telescopes and fooling around with one of his computers. The challenge is make his "wireless connection" work -- but we did succeed.
At around noon, we boarded a train for Pisa. It takes about an hour and a quarter. Once there, we found the Tourist Information Desk and got a map of the city. It was about a 35 minute walk to the Tower and Duomo area of the city. The construction took place over a period of 177 years and began in 1173! It's a beautiful structure made mostly of white marble. It is the bell tower for the Cathedral which is located nearby.

Pisa is a beautiful city with lots of nice shops and restaurants. The river Arno runs prominently through the center of town -- and it was busy with boat traffic and other forms of commerce.
On our way back to the train station, Linda and I stopped at a cyber cafe for a quick fix of email and Facebook. We also found a delightful falafel shop and enjoyed a bit of lunch. Tomorrow we "may" go to Sienna or Montealcino. In a couple of days we'll be off to Florence, Venice and points north -- but that's a blog entry for another day.....

More to come..

Wednesday, July 13, 2011. We arrived in Follonica around 3 p.m. and met my friend Francesco at the station. A short ride, about 10 KM, and we pull up to his home in the Tuscan mountain-side overlooking Follonica. It's a remote, quiet and beautiful setting. Like me, Francesco is an amateur astronomer and has several interesting telescopes. We have a number of other interests in common, including electronics, an old camera collection and technology in general.

Francesco's far covers quite a bit of acerage -- although I'm sure sure how much. But he does have an olive tree orchard with about 200 trees. The olives are harvested yearly and made in olive oil at a local "refinery". Francesco keeps some and sells the rest. He also has a substantial solar-power system that provides him with much of his electrical needs. The excess is sold to the city. Francesco tells me that his energy use is quite low and he will actually make some income from the effort. Pretty neat.

After a delightful dinner, we went into the small village Gavarrano on the top of the hill. The majority of the buildings are several hundred years old and the streets are narrow and winding. There is a working mine in the side of the hill that provides the area with income from pyrite. We got back to Francesco's placed around 10:30 p.m. and after an interesting discussion about some communications equipment he bought in the U.S., we hit the sack around 11:30 or so

Tomorrow we have train tickets for Pisa, so keep tuned..... More to come.