What do you think of when you think of Italy? Is it wine, the lake district, the colosseum? Or is it that tipsy tower with a lean that is etched into your mind when you think of the land of pasta?
Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa had been on my ‘list’ for as long as I could recall yet my reaction when I first saw it was irreverent. I laughed. Not a giggle, a proper laugh. Why? Well, some people had reporter to me that the tower did not look as they expected, in short it was too upright. Yet when I first saw it I thought the exact opposite.
How could the tower lean anymore yet remain upright? Currently it has around a 6° lean with the bell tower, at the top of the structure, overhanging the base by about 4 metres. In addition to the lean, the tower has sunk into the ground by over a metre.
As we approached the square of miracles, the location of the tower, my eyes were burnt with the reflection of the sun on the entirely white surfaces that surrounded the tower.
We took photographs pretending to push the tower over, of course, and watched all the other people doing the same thing. It was utterly mesmerising, seeing tens of people perched on bollards lining the park striking poses.
The conventional ticket to walk up the tower is €18 per person and must be purchased in advance, online. Each person will be provided a specified time at which they can join the queue but be prepared for long lines despite pre booking.
Dean and I opted not to climb the tower. For one it was expensive and secondly the lines to go up and back down again looked like agony.
Instead we opted for a combination ticket. At €8 we could visit the museum, baptistery, church and a building that could be compared to an Abbey. The museum provided context on the building of the tower that took 200 years to complete and also explained that Pisa used to be a powerful city in its own right. The square of miracles was constructed as a demonstration of that power yet one has to chuckle that they somehow managed to create one of the most unintentionally famous monuments in the world.
To get to Pisa it's an easy 1 hour on the train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station and will set you back around €9 a journey. No need to prebook your tickets just show up at the station and buy it from the machine, but note the trains get busy so don't expect a seat. This city is a little pricey for food so our suggestion would be to bring a packed lunch to enjoy with the sights of Pisa.
Also, if you don't want to go inside any of the buildings you can visit the leaning tower of Pisa for free as there is no entrance fee to the square of miracles. Just don't walk on the grass!