Well who would have thought it? It seems that there is more to see in Pisa than just a poorly built tower. I remember being surprised the last time I was here ten years ago at just how many fine buildings stand alongside the tower. Then we only had an hour here before we were bused off to Florence. This time we had a whole day to kill so it’s just as well that off the well beaten tourist track are a number interesting things to see and do.

The area around the tower was packed with tour groups of all ages and scores of people standing with their hands in the air all hoping to right the towers tilt. We took a few photos and quickly moved on.

We found the botanical gardens to be deserted and a real sanctuary from the busy streets. There were large areas of bamboo – what is it about that plant that always makes a place seem so tranquil? I’m sure that if I planted some at the bottom of my garden I would enter a zen like state when out there.

Lunch was a large plate of spaghetti carbonara. Doesn’t matter how hard you try no one can make it like the Italians and sat in a street cafe eating it was just perfect.

We then walked down to the river which was lined with a fantastic variety of old buildings and back through a piazza in the university quarter again with some fine old buildings.

Then back to reality and to return the hire car at the airport. How anyone found anything in this country before the invention of satnav I have no idea, the road signs are awful to non-existent making finding anything challenging. Fortunately I had Helen acting as copilot and we got there eventually.

So now I am sat typing this in the departure lounge of Pisa airport which looks and feels like any other. The one difference being the Italian relaxed attitude to security made getting in a doddle!