Where We Be
We took a short train ride from Lucca to Pisa to
see one of the must-see sights in Italy: the
Leaning Tower of Pisa. This iconic tower is, of
course, the most famous architectural landmark
in all of Italy, and everyone knows it cants quite
dramatically – nearly 5 degrees – from vertical.
But did you know what a lovely tower it is in its
own right? Its lean may have made it famous,
but even without this “defect,” its white-marble
columns and tiers of perfect arches marching
round and round make it an irresistible sight.
Then your eye is drawn to the rest of the “Field
of Miracles.” You see the enormous white-
marble Duomo – the largest in Europe when it
was constructed – and the equally eye-catching
white-marble Baptistery. This triumvirate of
matching architecture sits upon a perfect field
of green, something that distinguishes it from
nearly every other major tourist site in Europe.
Most cathedrals and towers are built on hard
stone surfaces, but here you have the
softening effect of green grass. Your eyes go
“ahh” as they alternate between the unyielding
white marble and the soft green grass.
We climbed the Tower of Pisa at noon. Only 40
people at a time are allowed to climb the Tower,
so lines can be long if you don’t buy tickets
ahead. Going up involves a steep climb of 294
marble steps that grow increasingly narrow the
higher you climb. They are worn in the centers
from all the millions of treads that have fallen
upon them. At each level of the tower you get a
chance to walk around and take pics. Then the
Tower attendants tell you it’s time to advance
to the next level. It’s all strictly regimented to
keep your visit to exactly 30 minutes so you can
get down in time for the next group to come up.
But of course your experience isn't complete
unless you also partake in the modern ritual of
holding the Tower up (or pushing it over) while
your photo is taken. Watching people come up
with creative approaches to this kitschiest of
photo ops is half the fun; we saw one young
woman doing a handstand while attempting to
position her feet just so to hold the tower up!
|The most famous architectural landmark in Italy holds up well to all the hype -- it looks much more
magnificent in person than it does on all those key chains, shot glasses, and fridge magnets
|Thank goodness Wonder Woman is here to save the day!
|Pisa's Duomo was the largest in Europe when it was constructed -- a testament to its power, which once rivaled Venice's
|We missed Pisa our last time in Italy -- but not this time!
|Tower stairs worn by millions of feet
|Wow, what a view of the "Field of Miracles" from the top -- and you really get a sense of the cross-shape of the cathedral from up here
|Seeing the Tower of Pisa was a must -- climbing it was a bonus!
|The soft green grass of the "Field of Miracles" contrasts wonderfully with the hard white marble of the Duomo, Baptistery, and Tower
|Leaning over the Leaning Tower to look straight down
|There comes a moment when you realize that you, yourself, are finally standing on the very top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa,
an icon you’ve seen and heard and read about since you were, what, five or six years old? It’s a good feeling!
|Looking straight down into the Camposanto, a cloistered cemetary of sorts located next to the Field of Miracles
|Looking out upon the red-tiled roofs of the city of Pisa
|Walking through town -- it's about a mile from the train station to the Leaning Tower
|This is the same Arno River that runs through Florence
|This adorable chapel sits sandwiched between the Arno River on one side and a busy road on the other
|The round Baptistery, one of three white-marble monuments on the Field of Miracles
|An example of how NOT to position your hand!
|We climbed 294 steps to the top -- with a few rests in between to enjoy the views
|Thank goodness there are gelato shops along the way!
|The Duomo's portico roof looks almost modernistic from above