Leaning Which Way in Pisa

Province of Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, June 2015.

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Leaving San Gimignano behind, we were off to our last and final destination of the day, the capital city of Pisa in Pisa Province.  Located in the central-western part of Tuscany, straddling the Arno River, Pisa has many tourist-drawing attractions but its most famous one is  the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We arrived in Pisa where our bus parked in a designated area.  As we chose a parking spot, I saw that we were just one of the many tourist buses that came before us.  Looking at the huge parking lot, it gave me an idea how popular this area is for the tourists.  I was ready to walk and finally gaze at the leaning tower i have heard about for so many years but nothing could have prepared me for the lengthy walk through the city streets, about a half hour walk to be exact that  we had to do before we arrived in the exact location.  After walking around Siena and San Gimignano the entire day, the long walk to The Leaning Tower was starting to wear me out already.

View of the Piazza dei Miracoli(Square of Miracles), formerly known asPiazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). It is also sometimes called the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles)
View of the Piazza dei Miracoli(Square of Miracles), formerly known asPiazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). It is also sometimes called the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually a bell tower for the Pisa Cathedral complex located nearby.  It is one of the four religious structures that composes the Piazza dei Miracoli ( Square of Miracles).  The other three are the Pisa cathedral, baptistry and monumental cemetery.

The Tower of Pisa was built in 1173 as a bell tower  for the Pisa Cathedral located nearby but it wasn’t until after the third level was constructed that The Tower started to sink and lean due to the weak clay foundation common in the region.

The Leaning Tower Crown contains the seven bells that was never rang for fear of worsening the sinking and tilt of the tower.
The Leaning Tower Crown contains the seven bells that was never rang for fear of worsening the sinking and tilt of the tower.

Fearing it might worsen the tilt of the tower, the bell towers  which was the primary purpose of the structure became prohibited from ringing.  After the first sinking and leaning was first observed in 1178, construction was halted for another 94 years before four more floors were added to the tower in 1272.  Finally in 1370, the 8-storey tower was completed however,  the bottom/foundation floor cannot be seen as it  had sunk and had gotten buried in the ground.  Because of this, attempts to dig and expose the beautiful base was initiated in 1838 but another problem was encountered when a water source was accidentally hit worsening the “leaning and sinking” situation.

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The 8-storey tower was completed in 1370 with the first floor which is the foundation/base floor still buried underground. Attempts to dig and unearth the base was initiated in 1838, however this only worsened the tilt.

Further efforts were made  in an attempt to help stabilize the weak foundation like the  digging of holes in the ground surrounding the base to be filled with cement but again, it did more damage than good by harming the base causing the tower to almost collapse in 1934.  In 1995, there was an attempt to hoist the tower to the ground for additional support but the tilt worsened by another  four (4) degrees.

The Tower is dominated with many graceful arches made of limestone wrapped around its vertical trunk since its construction during medieval times.


Further efforts were made  in an attempt to help stabilize the weak foundation like the  digging of holes in the ground surrounding the base to be filled with cement but again, it did more damage than good by harming the base causing the tower to almost collapse in 1934.  In 1995, there was an attempt to hoist the tower to the ground for additional support but the tilt worsened by another  four (4) degrees.

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When I look at The Leaning Tower from afar, it reminds me of a delicious, gigantic fondant cake with its many layers of delicate sugar arches wrapped around every floor, moulded delicately by the creative hands of its baker.  And all I want to do is cut a slice and sink my teeth into it.  That’s how beautiful and delicious it looks, or perhaps I was just hungry and tired at this point in time that’s why I was thinking of a fondant cake when I looked at The Leaning Tower.

Whereas the leaning of the Tower of Pisa was initially accidental and a structural nightmare during the medieval times, nowadays, the Italian government in Pisa is still doing their very best in ensuring the stabilization and strengthening of the ground’s foundation, but part of their top efforts now is to make sure that the tilt is well preserved after all, The Leaning Tower of Pisa is nothing and not as interesting without its famous tilt.  Tourism is one of the top contributors to the economy of the City of Pisa, so under no circumstances will they ever attempt to straighten out The Tower.

Doing the quintessential ‘ Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Palm of my Hand’ selfie.
Doing the quintessential ‘ Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Palm of my Hand’ selfie.

In 2001, the tower was reopened to the public for tourism with its 4.1 meters (13 ft.) legendary angle.  Previously in the past, the tilt was worse, about 5 meters (16ft.)  Due to its cultural and structural interest and attraction,  the Campo dei Miracoli square of which the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a part of,  was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
This has been a very eventful day checking out the reddish medieval town of Siena, the towers and the Vernaccia white wine of the Etruscan town of San Gimignano, and the legendary tilt of the Pisa Tower in the town of Pisa, all a UNESCO World Heritage declared Sites.  Everybody is tired but happy and we are all ready to call it a day as we boarded our bus for our way back to our home base,  Florence.

Next week, I will take you to a tipsy and bubbly journey to the famous town of Chianti in the Chianti region for a Wine Tasting Tour.  See you then!!!

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