Today's destination is the seaside town of Viareggio, precisely 21 minutes' train journey from Pisa Centrale. And the train journey through the Tuscan countryside is a treat: it's Tuscany in a nutshell, with those trademark narrow triangular trees, vineyards and mountains along the way. On arrival it's quite a long slow walk from the station to the 'prom' (not that those chic Italians would call it that of course!) and the most noticeable thing is that....you can't see the sea, for most of that long promenade, and for much of it the beach seems to be only accessible through private beach clubs etc. But we find a way, and later discover that there is a central section of the prom with a whole sea view. Viareggio has some fascinating architectural gems on its promenade and is well worth a visit. Going in May means there's definitely a more off-season feel, but it didn't spoil an enjoyable day.
Dining out at yet another one of those restaurants on Via Santa Maria. Which meant for me another variation on Tuscan Bean Soup. And finally plucking up the courage to ask the question: "can I order two things from the primi piatti"? I worried about the breach of etiquette, the potential culinary faux-pas etc etc. As it turned out this was ok and they said yes, so I didn't need to go into my "I'm almost vegetarian and the only meat I eat is chicken but you don't have any on the menu...." routine. Breathes a sigh of relief.
A couple of other observations about Pisa: I wouldn't call it 'hassle' as such, but those rose-sellers can be persistent, although a 'no thanks' usually suffices. Then there are the guys going round selling fake designer watches/big sunglasses, and scarpering very quickly when a cop car comes into sight. Oh, and there seems to be a serious toilet roll shortage in the bars/restaurants here, so much so that I have had to take my own supply :)))