Here’s a little video of one of Italy’s most famous sights, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
When I visited Pisa in 2001 (for a few hours only), the tower was roped off and no one was allowed to climb it – which is as it was for years. Until they’d figured out a way to stop the tower from continuing to sink at such an advanced pace, people weren’t allowed to go inside. What’s most interesting to me about the tower is that if you look at it from the side you can actually see the evidence of the architects attempting to correct for the tilt which was beginning even before construction was complete. Instead of leaning at one constant angle, you’ll see the top few “stories” actually lean a little less.
A visit to Pisa is, for some, a must when visiting Italy. The restaurants and vendors around the church square which contains the tower have capitalized handsomely on that fact – the food is mediocre and the tchotchkes are plentiful and overpriced. As you might be able to tell, I wasn’t overly impressed with the whole thing… Maybe if I’d planned to stay for more than an extended lunch break, to actually see something of Pisa, I’d have a different opinion.
If you’ve got to see the leaning tower of Pisa, here are some things to know:
- Arrival by train is easy – there are luggage lockers at the station so you can take an hour or two to visit the tower and not lug your big backpacks with you. If the lockers are full, there is usually an overflow (which costs a little more, but it’s handy) where you’ll leave your bags with an actual human being who gives you a number so you can claim them later.
- There are taxis and buses which can get you to the tower from the train station; the taxis are going to cost more, but you won’t have to wait for them the way you will the bus. If you’re not totally pressed for time, however, the bus is a very easy and inexpensive trip.
- The leaning tower is the bell tower for the cathedral in Pisa, and the grass around the entire cathedral complex is some of the greenest you’ll ever see in your life. It’s quite lovely, and on a nice day it’s covered with people just enjoying the sun.
- The cathedral is well worth a visit – the mosaics on the floors are quite nice, and the altar is incredibly carved.
- The baptistry, the third building of the cathedral complex, is the largest in Christendom.
And before you go, don’t forget to do that ridiculous (but you know you wanna) pose where you pose as if you’re holding up the tower on your back, or with your pinky finger, or whatever. Of course it’s silly, which is why everyone does it.