Day 1,054: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Monaco.

With a local guide, Laetitia led a day trip from the ship around Monaco and environs. The establishment of Monaco occurred at the end of the thirteenth century when a political struggle between the Genovese Guelphs and Ghibellines ended with the Grimaldi family in control of the fortified monolith, now called the Rock of Monaco, on what is now the south coast of France.  The Grimaldi heirs (Princes) continue to preside over this small principality to this day.  The government of Monaco collects little in taxes from its residents, many of whom are wealthy.  Tourism and the casino at Monte Carlo provide funds for much of the support of the infrastructure.

If along France’s south coast you choose to go
‘Tis likely you’ll come upon Monaco
It’s not for the poor
It has big yacht’s galore
And the famous Casino Monte Carlo.

Day 1,053: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy, Baptistery.

In addition to Pisa’s cathedral and famous bell tower, its baptistery is associated with Galileo.  He was baptized there.  Similar to the baptistery in Florence, it is a building of circular design with the baptismal font in the center.  In past centuries, an opening in the roof above the font would allow it to fill with rainwater so that newborns could be baptized with “water from God.”

The classic Tuscan battistero
Is circular, not long and narrow
With font open to sky
Through a roof hole on high
Filled with rain from God who minds the sparrow.

Day 1,052: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy.

Galileo is not the native of Pisa to make important advances in mathematics and science.  In the twelfth century, Leonardo of Pisa (Leonardo Pisano) reintroduced decimal mathematics into medieval Europe and described the “golden ratio,” the mathematics underlying what is commonly known as the Fibonacci Spiral.  Laetitia apologizes for the tortured rhyme of the limerick.

Less known than Pisa’s Galileo
Is its son Leonardo Pisano,
“Fibonacci” by name
Of decimals fame
And the spiral based on the gold ratio.

Day 1,051: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy. Cathedral.

Next to its famous bell tower in Pisa is the twelfth century cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  Suspended from the ceiling of its nave is a lamp on a long cord.According to tradition, while Galileo was attending mass, he noted that the lamp moved in a slight and regular manner. These observations led to his understanding of the science of pendulum motion and eventually to the pendulum clock.

Pisa Cathedral’s lamp in its nave
Spawned in Galileo a brain wave
Which gave him a notion
Of pendulum motion
And the pendulum clock to us gave.