At every turn, the Royal Victoria Hotel in Pisa reminds you that it has origins in the 10th century and has been family run for 160 years. Rambling halls that open into landings and foyers and courtyards, tall ceilings with plaster peeling in a charming way, tile floors in one room, with marble in another, and halls lined with old photographs, architectural drawings, portraits and sketches. Our window faced the Arno river, and when the sun was shining, light reflecting off the water flickered on the walls of our room. Each bedroom had a table facing the window, with a single straight-backed chair, waiting to hold a portable typewriter and a bottle of wine.

On the way to The Attraction we wandered through narrow streets streaming with bicycles, browsed markets, and crossed the Piazza del Cavalieri, where pedestrians, bikes, scooters and cars are all welcome to find their own path. We found (an) Armani’s apartment. And then we glimpsed the tip of the tower.

To be continued…

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