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Aim high on a day trip to Pisa

E pericoloso sporgersi. Why did Dante, Tuscany's most celebrated son, envision hell as an abyss? Hell is on high, at the seventh circle of Pisa's Leaning Tower. Or so I thought, wobbling at the sight of the flimsy guard rail and concentrating on the bells, inches from my nose, rather than the pristine cathedral bathed in golden winter sun.

The day trip to Italy had started so merrily with a Ryanair flight for next to nothing and it is an easy bus ride from the airport to the centre of the medieval city. But after shopping, sightseeing, lunch and 300 steps to the top, I had little energy left to resist the vertigo. So, while it's perfectly possible to do it in a day, I'd recommend lingering a little longer in Tuscany.

Crystal Italy's new brochure for 2004 includes apartments in the rustic hilltop village of Artimino with flights and car hire from pound;370 per person per week. Shorter breaks are available at the hotel on the estate, which was once owned by the Medici family.

Florence, Pisa and Leonardo's birthplace of Vinci are all within easy reach. Or you could just settle down to some comparative wine and olive oil tasting while resting your eyes on the soft green landscape. Details: 0870 888 0233; www.crystalitaly.co.uk.

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