During their time in Italy our friends Lora and Laurie from Wisconsin had planned to hire a car and drive north into Tuscany. Laurie particularly wanted to visit Pisa to see the leaning tower. They kindly invited me to accompany them on their trip. We departed early in the morning, with Laurie as the driver. The journey took us over 5 hours to get to Pisa, I didn’t realise quite how far away it was.
We arrived around mid afternoon and were able to take a stroll around before dusk. On foot we made our way to the Piazza dei Miracoli and as the square opened up we got our first glimpse of the Leaning Tower in all its glory, beautifully illuminated in the afternoon rays of the sun.
Work on the marble tower began in 1173 and took almost 200 years to complete. However well before its completion the tower had began to tilt, its foundations having been placed on a layer of soft subsoil that could not withstand the weight of the structure. Over the centuries the situation continued to deteriorate until in 1990 major works were required to stabilise the building. However it still continues to lean in a rather rakish manner.
The building is in fact the freestanding bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta that stands close by. The structure is cylindrical in form and has eight stories that are decorated with elegant arches. The tower was built of limestone and lime mortar, and its exterior was faced in white marble.
It is possible to visit the tower if you purchase a ticket, the tours run every 30 minutes. There are almost 300 slippery steps to negotiate to get to the top. There was a long queue for tickets that afternoon, and as we were short of time we decided to give the tour a miss.
The square in which the Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery stand is named the Piazza dei Miracoli. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and its construction commenced in 1063. The exterior is beautifully decorated in white and grey marble.
Closeby is the ornate Baptistery of San Giovanni, which dates from 1152 and took many years to complete.
Lora sitting by the beautiful Baroque “Fontana dei Putti”or Fountain of Angels in the square.
As time was short we began to retrace our steps to the car, however I managed to capture a few photos of interest along the way.
Our next destination was Cortona in Tuscany.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
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