Tuesday, October 26, 2010

There For The Climbing...If You're So Inclined

Our trip to Pisa was filled with great anticipation for me. I think the main reason was the fact that the Leaning Tower is so iconic. It graces magazine articles about Italy, can be found on packages of frozen ravioli in the grocery store and is a famous landmark known around the world. Anyone who sees it knows exactly what it is and where it is.

After we drove our rental van to Pisa and parked at a suggested site, we took a short ride on a bus over to see the tower. When we got off the bus, this was my first glimpse...a teaser for sure.

As soon as we walked through that arch, we saw the Baptistery on the left, and the first thing I noticed was this part of the building. It looks like it's leaning, doesn't it? But no, that wasn't it. Does everything here lean?

Immediately beside the Baptistery is the Cathedral and then, the Leaning Tower. From this angle, it doesn't appear all that wonky.
But as you move closer and get on its other side, you can really see the incredibly obvious lean. The tower, or campanile, is freestanding. Its only purpose? To be a bell tower. A bell tower that began leaning immediately after the start of construction in 1173.

That's when the
Leaning Tower of Pisa was born.

It took 177 years and three different stages of construction for it to be finished. It took Ed 10 minutes to plant himself in this pose.

The tower leans approximately 12 feet, 10 inches off-center. It's really quite an amazing sight. All that was left for us to do now, was climb it! They only let thirty people in at a time and at some point in the climb, while you're going up, the last group is coming down. There's plenty of room at the bottom for someone to pass, but when you get to the top, it's a one-woman/man show.

On the way up, I turned around and took a picture of this guy going down. He stopped at one of the landings to take a peek outside.

I took several of these breaks to take pictures.

Look at the detail of this marble. I felt fortunate to be able to not only climb it but to be inside, as the tower was closed to visitors for ten years while they worked on strengthening the structure. The marble walls at the base of the tower are eight feet thick!

As we neared the top, the passage got so narrow, I was wondering if my generous hips were going to be grazing the sides. At this point, I was sweating, and as one woman climbing behind me uttered in Italian, exhausted.

I had a fan that I bought in the gift shop to keep me company as I continued to make my way up into the tower. I'd climb and fan myself. Climb and fan. Climb and fan. Of the seven people in our group, only five of us climbed the tower. Look at the beautiful worn marble on these steps.

At first, when I heard it was 296 steps to the top, my initial reaction was, "No fucking way." I knew I would be hot and I knew it would tiring. But then I said, "How can I be here and NOT do this?" So I went. And I'm so glad I did. I'm also so freakin' proud of myself for making it!

Here I am, cresting the top of the tower, just a few steps left before I was at the very top.

Once there, I got to see the bells. There are seven of them, tuned to the musical scale, clockwise.

I made my way around to the northern side to take in the fantastic view of the Cathedral and the Baptistery.

I looked out over the sweeping 360-degree view of the surrounding town of Pisa.

And I had someone take a picture of me with my boyfriend Ed, to prove I had actually made it.

There was just enough time for me to catch my breath and rest my legs before the guards started yelling at us in Italian to move along. It was time to make our way back down.
I climbed an icon! And forever, until the day I die, I will be able to say, "Yeah - I climbed to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa."

ow cool is that??

I suppose there's a reason they call the area on which the tower stands, Campo dei Miracoli...

Field of Miracles.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I Need A Thing That Ain’t No Big Thing
Race To The Head
Eddie Fresh From A Nap Friday
Forever Yours


Pat said...

And now a tower climber is born. Next time you are in St. Louis, see if they'll let you climb the arch.

Seriously, I'd love to climb the tower in Pisa. That's too cool.

Angela said...

That is just awesome. The architechture is amazing! Hooray for you climbing the tower too! I don't know if I'd have made it. Half way through the nearly 300 steps I'd probably have been found crumpled and crying for mercy. ;o)

alique said...

I have goose bumps from reading this post and looking at the pics. Thank you for sharing. Your blog is very educational. I enjoy it very much.

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