If windmills gave me my first impression of the Netherlands when I was a child, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was that first introduction to Italian landmarks to me. What’s so special about a tower in the middle of nowhere that seems like it could fall and collapse anytime? I didn’t know either, but let’s find out.
From Florence, my dad and I took the train to Pisa station and walked about 20 minutes before we reached the famous tower. The city of Pisa was an hour away from Florence by train, perfect for a half-day trip…or so we thought. As I mentioned in the previous post, afternoon trains running between Florence and Pisa were all delayed by up to 2 hours, ruining our plan of a “half-day” visit to Pisa 😦
Our sole purpose in Pisa was to be a typical tourist and see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but as we walked through Pisa, I realized that the city itself had a tranquil aura, something that always charms me about small cities and towns. It was a pity that we only had enough time to see the tower and not more of the city itself. That’s the thing with speed-traveling – you rush through the tourist spots and miss the true beauty that wraps around you as you hurry from one place to the next. With only 5 days in three big Italian cities for my dad and half a day for Pisa, that would be the only reasonable plan.
The tower appears! I am almost certain that this photo wasn’t completely leveled. It was actually quite difficult to acquire an absolutely horizontal reference point to see how much the tower really leaned, but it was quite obviously leaning, alright, much more so than I had expected!
You could easily mispronounce Pisa and call it the Leaning Tower of “Pizza” instead, and it wouldn’t be too far off from what the tower looks like. A tower of mouth-watering, authentic Italian pizzas one stacked on top of another, forming the gigantic tower…mmm!
Since we were at the tower, why not go up? Apparently they only let a certain number of people go up to the top of the tower at a given time, and when I bought my tickets online ahead of time, I had to specific the exact time I wanted to enter. Just when I thought that the rules were flexible, we arrived at the entrance to realize that the guards really would only let us in at that specific hour. Luckily we timed it so we got to ascend only after a 10-minute wait 😛 I wouldn’t want to miss my panoramic view of Pisa from a high place 😉
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a bell tower, housing 7 bells tuned to the musical scale. There we see 4 of them, looking over the city of Pisa and protecting the tower like guardian angels.
I captured this photo of my dad just as he was about to descend the tower, with an expression of, “What, you mean we have to leave right now? 😦 ” Just teasin’, dad 😛
Back down on ground floor, we took a look at the Piazza del Duomo, the plaza in which the Leaning Tower was situated by the Pisa Cathedral. The white exterior façades of the architecture in the plaza give off an air of sophistication and elegance, but as far as I know, none of the other buildings were leaning, fortunately!
On the way back to the train station, we crossed the Arno river, the same one that traverses Florence. The houses of Pisa on both sides of the river form rows of magnificent reflections against the calm waters. I’ve seen many beautiful cities reflected in water, and while the one in Florence was hard to beat, Pisa may have surpassed it as my preferred Italian mirror… 😉
Not even the slightest breeze hovered over the Arno on that day. Not a single ripple disturbed the sleeping waters of Pisa. As a result, everything around me felt so quiet and so peaceful, yellow…and mellow.
Back at the train station, while we were waiting, I showed dad the little Italian pizza calendar that I got at the souvenir shop. I thought he’d appreciate it since he’s been in the pizza industry for well over 20 years. (Why else would the Leaning Tower of “Pizza” be a recommended stop for him? 😛 ) In fact, I think he appreciated this whole trip to Italy as his first “tour” around Europe, even though it only lasted 5 days.