Sunday, 20 June 2010


The whanau and I have just returned from a week in Tuscany. We spent a few days in Pisa and then a few more in a villa outside of the town of Lucca, which we shared with some of the Kiwi's friends. We had some lovely weather but also 3 days of heavy storms, the last of which caused a complete meltdown at Pisa aircraft as too many delayed planes arrived at once, producing scenes of chaos I haven't experienced since Athens airport in the mid-80s. Hugo attracted much attention from the bambino-loving Italians; one lunchtime he was passed around a resturant from one female admirer to another, which he much enjoyed being the awful flirt that he is. Whilst Lucca is a stunningly beautiful Tuscan town, I thought I would just post about Pisa as that is where we saw the most immediately "military" things. Pisa is not quite so appealing; it lacks the narrow cobbled streets and timelessness of Lucca.

Above are two photos of the famous "campo dei miracoli", where the leaning tower stands alongside the main cathedral, baptistry and other buildings. The tower is a bit like the London Assembly building (otherwise known as "the testicle") - to fully appreciate the lean you have to view it from a particular angle. The reason why the tower, and to a much lesser extent the other buildings, leans is the soggy mix of sand and silt on which they were built. The tower's final form was completed around 1350. Below are scenes from one of the sarcophagi in the "Camposanto", another building in the campo which is essentially a cloistered cemetary. No dates seemed to be provided for any of the stone objects in this building, but the guidebooks refer to "late Roman" sarcophagi and that seems to fit the bill for this one and its Romans v barbarians relief work.

The campo's museums have some interesting things. On the left is the "Pisa Cross", allegedly carried by the First Crusade's Pisan contingent. On the right are the cathedral's original bronze doors, made in 1180 and which depict the life of Christ in their various panels.

The city's walls date to the thirteenth century. Below are a view of the Fortezza Vecchia, which used to guard Pisa's harbour (long silted up) and a section of wall with one of the gates.

Lastly, some militaria from the Palazzon Reale, a grand house that belonged to the various ruling families of Pisa. The lack of exhibit information here was even more frustrating that in the Campsanto. I have no idea when the drums below date to or whether they are ceremonial or were carried in battle. Ditto for the suits of armour and costumes. I assume they are 16th or 17th century but have no further clarity than that. Pisa has a "push of war" event that dates back to the late 16th century called the "Gioco del Ponte" or "Joust of the Bridge", in which teams from either side of the River Arno that runs through the city competed for control of one of its bridges. It may be that the drums belong to various teams in that event rather than any "proper" military units. That said, I would certainly incorporate some of the motifs into drums for Italian Wars units...

On the waragming front I have just finished Eureka Miniatures' 18th century musicians and have started work on my first full Carlist unit for the FCW. More Sudan is also in the pipeline.


Consul said...

Bizarrely, my uncle was telling me today than him and his family will be staying in a villa outside of Lucca in a couple of weeks. How odd!


Michael Cannon said...

My family just came back from a cruise in the Med where we visited... Pisa!

Here's a vid of the guy in the Baptistry clocking the time.

Lickwars Men said...

wow very cool uniforms. please take a look at my blog, its brand new and i would love your opinion or tips to painting. great figs by the way.


Peeler said...

Nice photos Giles, looks like a great place to visit.

Andrew said...

Wow, those drums are a sight! Thanks for taking the photo.