I’ve had a few people tell me that going to Pisa isn’t quite worth it because all it is is a leaning tower. Which seems a little silly to me- how many leaning towers have you ever seen in your life anyway?
To be fair, yeah, it’s a little touristy and I doubt Pisa would get half as many visitors if they didn’t have such a famous landmark. The church behind the tower is quite nice though, for which the leaning tower is the bell tower-
There is also a baptistery on the other side of the church which I stared at not quite believing my eyes, because it is leaning too! Is this the reward we give for bad engineering, that the town gets tourists flocking from all corners of the globe? Great carrot and stick approach to get people to abide by building codes, people!
And because Mark Twain said it better than I ever could, the following quote is from The Innocents Abroad–
The Baptistry, which is a few years older than the Leaning Tower, is a stately rotunda, of huge dimensions, and was a costly structure. In it hangs the lamp whose measured swing suggested to Galileo the pendulum. It looked an insignificant thing to have conferred upon the world of science and mechanics such a mighty extension of their dominions as it has. Pondering, in its suggestive presence, I seemed to see a crazy universe of swinging disks, the toiling children of this sedate parent. He appeared to have an intelligent expression about him of knowing that he was not a lamp at all; that he was a Pendulum; a pendulum disguised, for prodigious and inscrutable purposes of his own deep devising, and not a common pendulum either, but the old original patriarchal Pendulum- the Abraham Pendulum of the world.
Because there was little else to do in Pisa, I shelled out the 15 Euro to climb the tower. I wouldn’t recommend it for people who are at all tall and/or claustrophobic though, because as you can see the steps are quite narrow… What is also interesting whilst climbing, of course, is how you can tell what side of the tower you are on based on what side of the steps you’re climbing on. This is a bit interesting while climbing up but a bit more unnerving while climbing down the stairs pitched forward- you can’t help but feel like you need to be careful lest you fall down…
Chilling at the top of the tower with Pisa in the background. It was fun to walk around the top and entertain yourself with the jarring sight of having a building angled wrong when you looked down, but the effect for me was wrecked by a kid brought up by his parents who freaked out and began screaming. And was promptly teased by his siblings and ignored by his parents, which exasperated the situation further. Sigh…
For fun, a view down towards the church with the waiting crowds and trinket stalls. In this picture I would bet that 50% are killing time until they can climb the tower as they only let people up every twenty minutes, 20% are taking “leaning against the tower” pictures like the one I have above, 20% are in some stage of purchasing an overpriced trinket, and 10% are pretending to check out the church with interest even though they really belong in the fiirst category.
And that is Pisa. If it wasn’t really close to Florence it wouldn’t have been worth checking out, but if you’re in the area and have a spare afternoon it’s worth checking out. My two cents on the matter anyway.