Another early arrival in port and today we had booked on one of Viking Stars complimentary excursions, this time to Pisa. Our excursion was scheduled for the afternoon. The port of Livorno is a busy working port and no pedestrian movement is allowed. Viking had arranged a regular complimentary shuttle service between the ship and the centre of Livorno: so I took the opportunity to spend a few hours in the town with my trusty camera.
There was plenty to see. Livorno’s history is well illustrated by the prominence of no less than two large defensive forts, one of which, Fortezza Nuova, I visited. The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi is also worth a visit as is the large Piazza della Repubblica and the Monumento dei Quattro Mori ( Monument of the four Moors – pictured)
Immediately after lunch we boarded our coach for the 45 minute journey to Pisa. The guide on the coach was able to give us an informative commentary during the journey and, on arrival at Pisa, we were handed over to a specialist Pisa guide.
Our tour centred on the three main attractions in the ‘Piazza dei Miracoli’: the Cathedral, the Baptistry and of course the Leaning Tower. One particular advantage of this organised group was that we were afforded the opportunity to witness a demonstration of the acoustics inside the Baptistry by a member of the Baptistry staff.
This video well demonstrates the experience:
I had personally set myself a goal while at Pisa and particularly in the ‘Piazza dei Miracoli’. Though not included in our excursion I used this free time we were given to visit the The Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).
One of the most intriguing buildings to be explored, this walled cemetery —which some believe to be the most beautiful cemetery in the world—is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Calvery, brought back to Pisa from the Fourth Crusade. (I have included some photographs)
As always, when visiting sites such as the Piazza dei Miracoli’, it is essential to have a knowledgeable guide. I personally would never be satisfied with ‘just seeing’ these places, there is so much knowledge to be gained with a quality guide and this list was no exception.
And that is where Viking excursions really excel. Superb guides, excellent organisation and that little bit extra..
Talking of organisation, for the on board entertainment this evening there was a ‘double’ bill. At 9.00 pm, in the Star Theatre, we were treated to an awesome production show by the Viking Star Singers and Dancers entitled “Songscape – An Operatic Fantasy” and this was followed at 10.15 pm by a cabaret act in the Torshavn night spot.
And the organisation? Well Torshavn would never have been able to accommodate all the guests that would want to see this particular cabaret act so Viking had, very sensibly, advertised tickets (no charge of course) for three separate shows on 3 consecutive nights. Guests could simply choose which night they wished to attend. Pretty innovative and, as it turned out, a great success.
On completion of the Cabaret the resident band continued to entertain as the Solents danced the night away into the early hours.
Perhaps not too good an idea as tomorrow we arrive in Civitavecchia, the port that is the cruisers gateway to Rome. I have a booking for at the complimentary 10 hour excursion while my wife sensibly decided to relax onboard with a visit to the Spa and start our inevitable packing.
Join me tomorrow for the Viking Rome experience.