On Monday, after taking the boys to school, I set out to explore the museums of Pisa. I really wanted to see the Museo de San Matteo – but of course, I did not check the schedule, walked all the way there, only to find that it is closed on Mondays… Such is common in Europe. Luckily, out of the journey, I got to check out the Giardino Scotto, a garden and playground located in an old fortress, and I discovered the Enoteca Pisana, a local wine store that produces its own wine and sells it for 2 Euro per bottle… talk about fitting my budget, hello wine store!
Then I headed to the Piazza del Miracoli to visit the Museo dell’ Opera and the Museo de Sinopie. Both museums are located at the edges of the cathedral square, and the Museo dell’ Opera allows you to view the leaning tower without having hundreds of other tourists around – they are blocked by a large wall. Both museums were simply average. Museo dell’ Opera showcased a lot of old relics and old sculptures from the history of Pisa’s cathedral. I learned that the reason why so many animal heads were placed on the sides of buildings back in the day was to ward off evil spirits or harm. I also learned that the Duomo square buildings were built during the height of Pisa’s power – right before its downfall and loss of independence to neighboring Florence. There were many great architects and artists living in the city during 1100 – 1300, but after 1400 they mostly disappeared to other cities due to the poor state of Pisa’s economy.
The Museo dell Sinopie showcases the old “sketches” of the artwork in the cathedral. It is amazing that the sketches have survived so many years! Looking at all of the hard work that goes into the art before the real thing is even created was interesting. Visiting both museums was educational and enlightened me more about the history of Piazza Miracoli. I bought a ticket from the Museo dell’ Opera to return at night for a concert of Fellini Jazz. I went home, napped, picked the kids up from school and hung out with them, had dinner, then returned to right underneath the Leaning Tower.
To my surprise, the Fellini Jazz concert was held in an old white-washed room whose only decoration was a giant crucifix. The “jazz” ensemble included a piano player, drums, and a cello. No trumpet. No trombone. No words. No energy. The music was beautiful but also very calm and relaxing. After about 30 minutes I found myself fighting to stay awake in the white room with the relaxing music. Since I bought a cheap ticket, I could only half see the piano player and the rest was obscured by the audience in front of me. After an hour, there was an intermission. Everyone filed out into the garden to smoke or to admire the Leaning Tower light up uninterrupted. About 20 minutes into the intermission I decided to head back since it seemed at least another 10 minutes before the music would start again and I was tired. Warning: jazz in Italy is not the same music as jazz in New Orleans. At least I gave it a chance.