You may recall hearing the stories about The Leaning Tower of Pisa in history. The tower was originally designed in 1173 to be perfectly vertical, but started to lean during construction and was eventually completed in 1399. The tower originally stood at 60 meters high and now is 56.67 meters at the highest point and 55.86 meters at the lower end. The tower leans at a 10 degree angle. The Italian name for the tower is Torre Pendente di Pisa. The leaning Tower of Pisa is medieval architecture, in Romanesque style. The tower was built in two phases, which included a total of 5 architects. The tower weighs approximately 14,500 tons. The Leaning Tower is the Piazza’s crowning glory.
Climbing the tower: There are 297 steps that you must climb to get to the top of the Leaning
Tower. A purchased ticket to view the tower has a specific time to enter, in 30 minute intervals. It is important to note that if you will only be in Pisa for one day, you should visit the tower in the morning to ensure your ticket for the day. Depending on how busy it is that day, your ticket may be for several hours out or even sold out for the day. The second time I went to Pisa, we were on a tour which arrived in the afternoon and only allowed two hours to explore. When we went to purchase a ticket to climb the tower, the first available was three hours out and our tour would already be gone. My family was devastated to travel all the way to Pisa, just to be turned away. The afternoon is quite busy in Pisa. Keep in mind that buses drop tourists off constantly throughout the day. We wasted an entire 30 minutes of our 2 hours at the Square just waiting in line at the bathroom. If possible, use the restroom outside of the square. When purchasing a ticket, they require that all bags, purses and any belongings be checked into a locker (for a fee) prior to entering the tower. If you have asthma, I recommend bringing your inhaler into the tower. I didn’t think to bring mine and left it behind in my purse – big mistake. When climbing the tower, there aren’t any railings to hold on to and it is very narrow with people passing as they are coming down. It is odd climbing up steps which aren’t level and it can cause dizziness climbing in a circle for 297 steps. Nonetheless, it is worth it when you get to the top! The view is unbelievable and you can see the entire square. Bring your camera to take pictures at the top.
The Square of Miracles
There are four buildings that make up the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy, called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli, which means Field of Miracles. The cathedral, or Duomo di Pisa, was the first building constructed at Campo dei Miracoli, Pisa, which rests on a white marble pavement and is an impressive example of Romanesque architecture. Just west of the dome, lies the next building added which is the baptistery. Then work on the campanile began. Before the work on the campanile was completed the cemetery, Campo Santo, was built.This Piazza is the most phenomenal display of Romanesque architecture in Italy. The cathedral is faced in gray-and-white striped marble and bristling with columns and arches. It has a curiously Islamic dome and matching domed baptistery, which rises from an emerald green lawn. Flanking one side of the piazza, the camposanto, or cemetery, is a gracefully elongated cloister enclosing a burial ground with earth reputedly brought back during the Crusades from Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was crucified, so that noble Pisans could rest in holy ground.
There is a large area of lawn at the Square which is a great way to unwind after being cooped up on a long bus or car ride to reach the Tower. Tourists were sitting around on the lawn enjoying a drink, taking pictures of the enormous structures all the while kids were running around. The lawn area is very inviting.
$$ saving tips: Vendors set up at tables along the walk to the Square selling various items such as snow globes, aprons, purses, plates with the tower on them, etc. Many of the vendors sell the same items, so be sure to check prices at each table prior to purchasing. The shopping area is filled with high priced souvenirs, so be sure to compare prices with vendors located right outside the square. Rather than sitting down and eating a meal outside the square, you can grab a piece of fruit and a bottled water or coffee from one of the vendors and make your way into the Square. If you are there for a limited amount of time, don’t waste time eating lunch. Go straight to the tower to purchase the ticket to go inside.
5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine