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.