A Quirky Slice of Pisa

Thanks to Princess Cruises for inviting us along and providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own. See our entire Mediterranean voyage aboard the Royal Princess here

Pisa, Italy

We're not sure if we have ever heard the word Pisa without "leaning tower" in front of it.

There is good reason for that, the gravity defying belfry is certainly the star of the show.

So after a visit to Florence, we stopped on our way back to The Royal Princess, docked in nearby Livorno, to give the paparazzi treatment to the celebrity and snap the obligatory photos.

The leaning tower of Pisa

Ever since they were invented, any camera in the vicinity of the tower has been used to take the same basic photograph.

We'd even be willing to bet there were pictures painted before the advent of film.

Sure there are variations on the theme, but they all come down to holding up the tower one way or another.

So we did our duty and started out with the classic two-handed (with the addition of Veronica bracing for the fall for extra style points)...

then the casual...

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa... casually

and finally the "look ma, one finger"...

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa with one finger!

But we were certainly not alone. Attempting to improve on the old standbys, folks were trying a jumping jolt....

Trying to fix the leaning tower of Pisa by jumping!

a multi generational hold...

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, family style!

a piggyback push...

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa on piggyback!

while balancing on a fence...

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa while standing on a fence

and a full airborne assault.

Leaping to right the leaning tower of Pisa

See our entire Mediterranean voyage here

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

But over the years all of these helpers weren't really helping, the tower kept leaning more and more.

So much that some people thought the fact that it was standing at all must be a miracle and began to call the square Piazza dei Miracoli, or Plaza of Miracles, instead of its real name, Piazza del Duomo, or Plaza of the Cathedral.

On closer inspection we could see some evidence of the tower's history, a slight change above the third floor.

Construction began in 1173 as the bell tower for the cathedral, but was halted after three stories because the building was already beginning to sink on one side.

A century later, after deciding things had stabilized enough, construction recommenced but, in an attempt to straighten things out a bit, the new floors were added at a slight angle.

By the time the tower was completed in 1319, the straightening seemed to have worked, and there was only a slight list of one degree off of vertical.

But time would change that, by 1990 the lean was a frightening five and a half degrees and something had to be done or it really would be a miracle if the tower stayed standing.

The leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

Using excavations, cables, and even giant lead weights, engineers managed to straighten things up by seventeen inches, and stop the progress of the slow fall to the point that people are once again allowed to climb up into the tower.

But since we were not allowed to test Pisa's most famous native son Galileo's experiment of dropping cannonballs of various weights from the top to prove that they fall at the same speed, or perhaps because we just didn't feel like spending over an hour in line, we decided to pass on that and check out the rest of the piazza.

As we mentioned, the tower is the main attraction, but the other structures in the Piazza del Duomo are pretty impressive too. There wouldn't be a tower if not for the cathedral Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption) that predates the bell tower by a full century.

The cathedral Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption) at Pisa, Italy

And around the same time as work began on the tower, the Pisa Baptistry was begun, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

The Pisa Baptistry in Pisa, Italy

Porta Nuova - gateway to the leaning tower of Pisa

As wonky as things in the piazza seemed, we were not sure if our eyes were playing tricks on us, but it certainly looked like the Baptistry had a slight lean going on too.

We looked into it and it wasn't our eyes. While nowhere near enough to inspire an onslaught of goofy pictures, the building is nearly one degree off of vertical.

On our way out of the piazza, just outside the Porta Nuova (New Gate) that opens through the medieval walls, we found another marvel, the leaning tower of grappa.

 

The leaning tower of grappa!

Guaranteed to give even the sturdiest person a little lean.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Thanks to Princess Cruises for inviting us along and providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own. See our entire Mediterranean voyage aboard the Royal Princess here

See all of our adventures in Italy!

YOUR TURN: Have you been to Pisa? Did you/would you take the goofy pic?



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