Continuing on with last October’s Italian trip:
After leaving ViaReggio, we were taken to yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. On our arrival in the Tuscan city of Pisa, we boarded a cute little train which took us to one of the most famous towers in the world.
This is the sight which greeted us as we walked through the entrance to the grounds on which the city’s cathedral and bell tower stand. It was such a thrill to see the leaning tower for myself.
The beautiful Baptistry of Saint John, completed in 1363, the largest in Italy. The lower part of this 55m tall building is built in the Romanesque style, with rounded arches, while the upper registers are in the Gothic style, with pointed arches. It is made of marble, which was so typical of Italian architecture.
I had often wondered about the leaning tower, and why it leans sideways. Our guide told us that it was because it was built on unstable soil. Construction was started on the 180-foot bell tower in 1173, and the building began to lean as soon as the first three floors were completed. Building continued however, and the seven-story structure was finished between 1360 and 1370. The tower leans a little bit more each year and was closed for repairs in 1990, when it was leaning fourteen and a half feet to one side. Engineers worked to stabilize the foundation, straightening the tower only slightly to help prevent irreparable damage without taking away the uniqueness of the structure.
Hubby is a great DIY fanatic, and tried to push it upright with his finger, but without much success. 😉
The tower is apparently the only thing of interest in Pisa, so once we’d seen it, and wandered around for about forty minutes, we were back on the train, after running the gauntlet of the inevitable street traders, selling all the usual rubbish, mostly made in China.
Our next stop was to be in the beautiful town of Lucca, which I’ll tell you all about next time.