When we told the kids we were going to spend a couple of weeks in Italy, Ashley immediately asked if we would see the Tower of Pisa. Since it was on the way to Cinque Terre we stopped for one night in Pisa and while we completely underappreciated the city, we enjoyed the tower.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa or Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower of the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo. Construction began in 1173 and all went as planned for the first five years, but with the completion of the third floor, it began to lean. The clay soil was not dense enough, nor the foundation deep enough to hold the structure upright and so construction was halted for 100 years. In 1272, four more levels were added which caused the tower to lean even more.
It was not until 1372 when the bell chamber was finally added, but the leaning problem remained and was made worse in 1838 when an architect dug a pathway near the base of the tower so people could admire the foundation. In 1964, Italy asked for help to keep the tower uptight and a team of engineers and historians installed a 800 ton counterweight. In 1987, the entire Piazza del Duoma was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and in 1990 the tower was closed for about 10 years to be made safe for all of the tourists who want to climb to the top.
We were some of those tourists who wanted to climb to the top. You could feel the tilt in the building as you climbed the spiral stairs up to the top. The cathedral is to the right of the kids and the baptistery is to the left. It was cold and rainy.
Scott enjoyed the level app on his phone at the top of the tower.
The tower was cool but I really loved the baptistery, the largest in Italy. The Piazza del Duomo is a total tourist trap with people everywhere and you have to buy tickets to get into everything, but the baptistery was empty and so quiet when we entered.
This is as you enter looking up. You have to be completely silent.
This on the second level balcony looking down. Every fifteen minutes or so a man would stand in the center and sing scales of some sort. The acoustics in the building were beautiful. It was especially exciting to watch a woman get escorted out for singing.
We finished off the evening with some gelato and graffiti.
We saw these two fellows performing their own miracle (the Piazza is also known as Campo dei Miracoli or Square of Miracles) the next morning. I noticed them when I was out looking for stamps and I wanted the kids to see them. When we all returned, they were under a black garbage bag tent with their helper gearing up for the feat (I wished I would have taken a picture of that!).
Scott is really getting good at public transportation. We took the train to Pisa and the bus to a stop near our hotel and back again to the train station the next day. It was still raining and we were crammed, along with our luggage and a lot of people, onto the city bus. Pisa made me realize that my bag needs a serious diet.