Leaning Towards One of the World’s Most Recognizable Buildings

The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is simply a bell tower for the adjacent cathedral; cathedrals all over Italy have bell towers and many of them are leaning for one reason or another, but I’ve seen everyone else’s pictures “propping up” the Leaning Tower and I needed to have one of my own. Tourists stand in front of the tipsy tower, leaning at a jaunty angle themselves, and take snapshots in which they seem to disobey the laws of gravity. Although it’s a tourist trap, I feel into the desire to travel to Pisa with the sole purpose of seeing the Leaning Tower.

Pisa is located in the region of Tuscany, a short train ride away from Florence; so when we arrived in Florence early in the morning and still had a full day of free travel on the Eurorail, we figured a quick jaunt to Pisa was in order. 

As we got closer to the world famous icon, we were amazed to see it poking out the end of an ordinary neighborhood street. With 207 columns ranged around eight stories, it is a miracle of medieval engineering even if it wasn’t intended to lean.

We tried our luck at getting the perfect angle and camera position to look as if we were holding up the tower. What everyone else made look easy, was a bit more complicated than I had anticipated. After about 15 ill-attempted shots, it was time to tour the tower.

We reached the top of the tower by climbing the 294 steps, which rise in the form of a spiral on the inner side of the tower walls. It wasn’t as draining as climbing the Eiffel Tower, but the excessive Italian weather did add to the difficulty. At first, I couldn’t overly feel the lean. We came out on the first viewing platform some way up and walked the full circumference around the tower on the outside. When we walked around on the down part of the lean, I felt as though I was being forced away from and off of the tower. Once up another flight of stairs, we came out to the second outside gallery; this time we could only walk a quarter of the circumference and the lean was more drastic. The final staircase was a tight squeeze. The wind, which was quite noticeable and strong at the top, made me feel like I could be blown off at any moment. I did feel a little bit nervous, but it was well worth the views.

At this point, most tourists probably head back into town and do a bit of exploring or shopping or possibly even sty the night, but for us, once we saw the tower, climbed its walls, and took our photos, that concluded our tour of Pisa.

I am definetly glad that I got to see this attraction once in my lifetime, but its doubtful that I would make the trek again. It wasn’t until I reached the top and felt the strong winds on my face that I understood the tourist value.

If you’ve found yourself in Pisa, take the extra time to climb the tower so you can truly appreciate its name, Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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73 thoughts on “Leaning Towards One of the World’s Most Recognizable Buildings

  1. I was here in 1992, ate a bad sandwich, and evacuated in a 50 cent restroom. In all my years of Italy travel I have never returned. I am as well traveled in Italy as anyone I know so this is no knock on the boot, just a tough memory in an over-touristed space

  2. Hi Lesley- Great contrasting shots… who’s the blonde! :-) When driving through Italy we had to make a stop here, but it was literally for about 2 hours. Photos, walk and back in the car. Fortunately, no food. I felt bad wondering what else Pisa had to offer… but maybe Blissful Adventurer knows best.

    • I would have liked to spend more time checking out Pisa too, but Italy has so much to offer and there is on;y so much time in the day/vacation. Hopefully I’ll make it back someday with my beautiful baby girl in toe.

  3. Great photos and story.!
    The leaning tower reminds us of our own leanings too.
    We all have our individual priorities and personal preferences
    which compel us to take our choices in life… ;)

  4. I went there in 2009 and went into all the buildings except for the tower because I was too stingy to pay for the entrance fee… I think it was 11 euros…

  5. Great pics. I visited Pisa twice – once in my student years. I remember I was annoyed they had scaffolding around it and my pics were rubbish because of that. Years later, I received an award at work and we were sent on a holiday to Tuscany. I went to get my pics then, and – horror of horrors! – the scaffolding was still there! Or there again. Ugh! Just my luck! LOL

  6. Years ago I flew into Pisa from Turin and saw the tower from the air. It is quite a sight! They didn’t allow tours at that time, but I enjoyed taking one with you! Thanks.

  7. Thanks for the post. I have never been and am really, now, only intrigued knowing that you can actually go inside of it. That would fascinate me even more.

  8. Hi Lesley! Thank you for liking my post about Boracay! I’ll better go through your blog ’cause I’m finding it very interesting. I’m pleased I love Italy and that you put Rome (my birth city) as head of your top 10 visited cities ;)

  9. Ciao Lesley. Yes, the Tower is certainly worth a look/see. But I do feel there is lots more to offer in this fine city. For one thing it is a University town so students, lectures on art and architecture, etc. abound. Students seem always to be on the ‘cutting edge’ so there is lots to see and do. While visiting last Fall we did see a wonderful Picasso exhibit. My best, Lisa

  10. Ciao Lesley. The leaning Tower is great. I particularly liked that as you approached from a certain angle, it did not even appear to be leaning – until you got closer…… I do think there is lots to do and see in this University town. Lots of students, lectures on art and architecture. While there las Fall did see a wonderful exhibit on Picasso. My best Lisa

    • That’s exactly what I was going to focus on about the Tower, i.e. the fact you literally don’t see it coming.
      Other than that, this is a well written post with amazing pictures, which is the part I always enjoy the most.
      Keep up the good work Lesley!

  11. Wow, Lesley, I had not realized it leaned THIS much! And so silly of me, I had not known (or had forgotten,duh!) that it was simply the belltower for the Cathedral there. I think you are right–the only way to truly appreciate the “leaning-ness” of the Tower of Pisa would be to climb up to the top of it and look all around down below, comparing angles of perspective from one side to the other.

  12. I am so jealous. I feel you flying around everywhere every day. They are amazing photos showing me the Leaning Tower of Pisa in different time periods. I love the golden one the best, and the last one looks like a winter shot! Thanks for sharing. :) Keep up the good work.

  13. My fondest of memories in a trip my parents took me on in a VW they bought and toured all of Europe in for 3 months (with me being only around 5-6) is of my dad picking me up and putting me on his shoulders as “we” climbed all the steps to the top of the Tower of Pisa! I don’t think they let people climb up now. Thanks for bringing happy memories back!

  14. Well, we found that none of us had much of any interest in the tower. Too touristy, too little time for our trip. As we drove by the city on the freeway, we said to each other, “Yup that tower is leaning” and continued on our way.
    If we were to come back and have a little more time, I would love to explore the city and the area around it.
    Great photos in beautiful light.

  15. Beautiful shots! After visiting Pisa, we then took a train to Cinque Terre from Pisa. It’s my one of my favorite place in Italy. Have you been there?

  16. After a little more than 2o visits to Ireland, and one to Poland during the last 30 or so years, I am ready to branch out. Of course, I’m not counting a year and a half in the merchant marine after high school a long, long time ago. Pisa, Siena, Floence, naples and Rome..a bit of Sicily. All of them are on the list. Nice photos.

  17. Pingback: You are a Very Inspiring Blogger… | foodtable // la vie éclectique

  18. We are off to Italy this May. We arrive on May 6, and return by the end of the month. We will be visiting the area where my grandparents lived as children. I will be able to walk the same earth they all walked as children. Pisa is not on the list this time but we may stop by after reading your blog. By the way I will be in the company of my Uncle who celebrated his 95 th birthday last year!

  19. I climbed the tower with my family a few years ago. We took the leaning shots you described- I guess everyone does. What we thought was really remarkable was the way gravity and the lean of the tower forced us to climb the stairs, either on the inside or outside wall, depending which side we were on. We found it was impossible to stay on the opposite side of the lean. Very cool!

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