If it weren’t for my mom, I probably would not have gone to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa on our way to Florence on Wednesday.
Correction: I definitely would not have gone.
But I’m glad I did. Our two hour side trip from the Pisa train station cost us just ten Euros (three Euros each to store our baggage and four Euros for the city bus). The tower was, as promised, leaning.
So what’s the deal, right? That was my question. Why is it leaning?
Construction on the the freestanding bell tower of the cathedral of Pisa (what we now refer to as the Leaning Tower) was begun in 1173 by Bonanno Pisano. Because the tower had been built in weak, unstable subsoil, it began to sink after construction progressed to the third floor in 1178.
Pause for war, etc.
In 1272, construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built higher floors with one side taller than the other. (Madness!) This made the tower begin to lean in the other direction so that the tower is actually curved. The tower now leans to the southwest.
That’s my favourite part… after this radical intervention, the tower is still leaning but in a different direction.( Sometimes, a tower is just meant to lean!)
And, as always, the people-watching was delightful.
These men were able to get their “hold your arm up so it looks like you are preventing the tower from falling down” pose just right. Unfortunately, mom and I weren’t as successful. I have a little photo-collection of pathetic attempts… neither of us is very scientific.
The Leaning Tower is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World – along with Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Great Wall of China, the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing and the Hagia Sophia.
Here’s a good game… what are the seven wonders of your city OR your country OR the twentieth century? Share your picks here!