After a train ride across Tuscany, meandering through rolling green hills, golden wheat fields, and tucked-away hill towns, we disembarked in the town of Pisa. Pisa is a university town of ancient proportions — the birthplace of Galileo and where he later became a professor of mathematics.
Pisa has this remarkable cathedral (duomo), complete with a baptistery (that has the most amazing acoustics) and an elaborately decorated bell tower. They call the place “The Field of Miracles” (Campo dei Miracoli)
One minute, you are admiring the ornate Romanesque marble work, and then you might ask yourself: “Is it just me, or is that bell tower crooked?”
Yes, in all its glory, the leaning tower of Pisa. And this 200-foot tower really does lean.
What went wrong with the leaning tower of Pisa? Scientific types might point to the insufficient foundation originally laid for all of those tonnes of marble in 1171, as well as the unstable, marshy soil. There are other possible causes though, like big wily Germans….
And while attempts have been made at repair since 1550, even this Dutch doctor’s efforts to prop things up did not seem overly effective.
It turns out that you can climb to the top of this wonder! Lots of curving, slippery marble steps, but another great view from the tower. Plus, I love the kooky novelty of being able to say that I stood on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In case you wonder what it looks like from the leaning edge…
Do you remember that this is where Galileo reportedly conducted his famous experiments trying to understand gravity? Legend has it that he dropped objects of various weights from the top of the leaning tower to see how fast they would fall. But don’t worry — these days, they are very careful about preventing one from becoming another example of how well gravity works.