Subject: Re: To Pisa or Not to Pisa

>Here is my question .... rather than try to squeeze it all in,
>what if we skipped the optional to Pisa and instead took an early
>afternoon train on our own to Florence? Then we would have two trips to
>Florence, and more time to see the museums, churches, and just >wander. (I mean, I'm sure the Leaning Tower is wonderful ... but we like >art and shopping)

One way or the other the time you describe is not enough for either city but given that, here is what I would recommend. Go to Pisa. The leaning tower in my opinion is the third most interesting thing to see behind the Babtistry and the Church (S. Maria) at the Campo dei Miracoli. There is enough art to see in these latter two monuments to satisfy the most ardent art fan. Pisano's carvings in the Babtistry alone are worth the short trip. Also there is interesting shopping along Via Roma and Via Santa Maria. Both of these streets begin the Campo go down to the river then you could walk up one or the other. One of the best pastry shops I have ever seen is on one of these streets which add, in my opinion, to the value of this short trip. Perhaps the member of this list who lives in Pisa could amplify these comments.

> Question #2) One morning in Venice, our tour wakes us up and does a tour of St Mark's Basilica, a glass factory, and then offers an optional tour to the Island of Burano.

Since you have such a short time in Venice, I would urge you to stay in Venice and just walk around the city. In a day one could walk the city and enjoy all the fabulous vistas etc. that you will come across. Of course a good guide book and map would be invaluable. Maybe a good place to start would be to take the vaporetto that goes around the island starting at Piazza San Marco and ending there. Cost is a few dollars. These are usually very crowded so that would be the only reason for not opting for the vaporetto. You realize that the hotel where you will be staying in Mestre is a good distance from Venice.

You mention a six course meal. A typical Italian meal is: 1) one or two antipasti 2) a pasta course 3) a meat or fish course 4) a dessert. If you want vegetables, these must be ordered separately.

There is a plethora amount of information about Italy and the cities where you will be visiting at