by

Zoe Enyedy


lmost anyone can tell you what Pisa is most famous for - The Leaning Tower! From the beginning it slanted, and many of the attempts to straighten it, only made it lean more. The tower is, of course, what everyone wants to see, and people come by the thousands to see it, and some to climb it.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Construction began in 1173 and required 200 years to complete. Even before it had been completed, it began to lean. Over the centuries, it continued to lean more and more at an increasingly steeper angle. In the 19th century, attempts to correct the lean caused it to slant even further.

In 1988, the tower was closed to visitors, and work began to straighten it before it toppled over entirely. Lead ingots were placed at its base with a system of steel cables holding it in place. Holes were drilled into the ground to remove the silt from under the foundations. At least for now, the tower leans at an angle of 5.5 degrees.

Visitors are now allowed to climb to the top of the tower, and a great many do, paying a substantial fee to do so. Art and Melanie were eager to do this, and since we had taken the early train from Florence, they were able to so without waiting. It seemed a great height as we watched them waving to us.

It seems that everyone who goes to Pisa, wants to take a silly picture of holding up the Leaning Tower, or trying to push it over. We tried both!

The Leaning Tower stands in the Field of Miracles, easily one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy. Although the Leaning Tower is the best known building, there are others well worth a visit. The Duomo, Pisa’s beautiful cathedral, rivals many famous churches in Italy, but continues to be overshadowed by its tippy neighbor. Its 12th century façade contains colored sandstone, glass and majolica plates.

Western side and Eastern side of Pisa's Duomo

The decorations in the façade also include knots, flowers, and animals depicted with inlaid marble.


nce inside the Duomo, the enormous dimensions of this church are amazing. In addition to the main body of the church, there are numerous tombs and side altars, all lavishly decorated.

Interior of Pisa's Duomo

The Duomo's pulpit, carved in the14th century by Giovanni Pisano.

Chapel altars inside the Duomo

The main altar and the tabernacle

In another area of the Duomo was another beautiful arrangement of a beautiful stained glass window to the Blessed Mother ...

...a crucifix in front of the stained glass window...

...an angel at the edge of the group holding a candle...

...and above a door was this lovely depiction of the coronation of Mary.

We did not have nearly enough time to explore this church thoroughly, but it was certainly beautiful and worthy of another visit ------some day!


ike all medieval cities, Pisa had a wall surrounding it. For a fee, one could walk along some of the remaining parts of it. We learned that the “walkable part” was only about 25 feet long, and not worth it, so we did not try it.

Pisa City Walls

Next we explored Pisa's Baptistry.

The baptistry

Inside the baptistry we admired the Holy Water Font, and the beautiful pulpit by Nicola Pisano; Pisano created both the pulpit in the baptistry and the duomo.

Art, Melanie, and Roseann climbed the stairs to the second floor of the baptistry, and found this view looking down on the Baptistry Main Floor.

The Baptistry is noted for its acoutistics. We were fortunate to be present for a demonstration. One of the guards, sang a long single note of just one tone. It echoed beautifully. Again he sang it, and as it echoed he sang another just a bit higher; so that he actually ended up singing a duet with himself!

Alas, soon it was time to leave to catch our train back to Florence. On our way out, we had to run the gauntlet of tourist traps selling souvenirs, and who-knows-what.

I turned around outside the gate and looked back at our day’s adventure. The Baptistry, The Duomo, and the Leaning Tower had been such an adventure in Pisa!

Looking through Porta San Maria in Pisa's city walls


Click on a button to read another page describing my trip to Italy.

Venice

Florence (Part 1)

Florence (Part 2)

Pisa

The Vatican

Rome (Part 1)

Rome (Part 2)

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