Pisa, Italy, 2010
The Leaning Tower of Pisa has become a symbol of Italy as much as the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and France. Interestingly enough this is not the only "leaning tower" in Italy. I've seen many towers that are crooked, tilted and deformed in cities large and small. Seems like drunken builders are part of the cultural tradition. So what's the big deal with the tower in Pisa? Why wouldn't they straighten it already? Because if they straighten it it will be leaning in the opposite direction. Truth is that the tower was built over the course of long 199 years and was gradually curved so that the top part is actually straight as it is.
1. The degree of the inclination is best seen when compared to a straight stationary object. It is pretty dramatic.
2. Tourists like the photo opportunity to pose with the leaning tower. The main picture theme is "holding" the tower from falling.
3. Being on the grass is actually prohibited, but people ignore the warning signs. The crowd on the grassy areas gradually builds up and sooner or later a bunch of bored policemen with whistles appear from somewhere and shoo away everybody. The process repeats every hour or so.
4. I also couldn't resist and took some traditional pictures ...
5. ... some less-traditional ....
6. ... and some non-traditional. It's me in the picture.
7. The tower is actually a part of an ensemble consisting of four buildings that is called Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles).
8. Similar architectural elements provide the visual continuity.
9. Glaring restoration artifacts don't spoil it one bit.
9. If you want to climb to the top of the tower you need to buy a ticket early enough before they sell out. Then you wait until specified time, when you can join a small group of tourists led by a hurrying guide. You cannot take any bags to the top of the tower, so make sure you store them in the provided lockers before you go to the tower. If you are not on time, you will simply lose your place in line.
10. As you walk to the top of the tower and back you can enjoy the uneven steps, inclined walls and glimpses of the peaceful city of Pisa.
11. A telephoto lens can reveal subtle details in the surrounding areas.
12. This puzzling "clock" is actually a wind rose. The abbreviated names refer to the directional names of the winds. TRAMontanta - Northern wind, MEZZogiorno - Sourthern Wind, etc. The one clock arm (which only looks like two) is controlled by the position of the wind wane atop.
13. This widely copied statue depicts the twin brothers Remus and Romulus born from a sworn virgin Rhea and god of war Mars. They were abandoned and found by the she-wolf Lupa, who lost her cubs and fed them instead. Legend has it that Romulus went on to found the city of Rome.
All in all, visiting Pisa can take an hour or it can take a day, especially if you opt for going to the top of the tower. On most days it is a very crowded touristy place with limited parking that doesn't inspire a second visit.
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