04 October 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Of course, there should be a post about the Leaning Tower. After all, we were in Pisa. It would be a shame if we went to Pisa and didn't check out the famous Leaning Tower. So here we were, one cloudy afternoon, gazing up while standing at the Plaza of Miracles, and admiring the weirdly bizarre architecturally impaired Torre pendente di Pisa.

See, we opted to climb this thing. We bought tickets. And we climbed. Oh, it was dizzying. It felt like I was getting seasick, as every time I would turn around the interior staircase, my sense of balance would complain, as my center of gravity would always shift from one side to the other every time I encircle it, depending on which side of the tower I was currently in at that time.

Three months after our initial visit, I actually was back in Pisa, this time for a conference. During this time, I joined a guided tour of the area (it was part of the conference events), and therefore I was able to learn more about why the tower leans (the earth was soft; and there are actually several other buildings in Pisa that lean too), who was the architect, and how subsequent efforts tried to limit its tilt (the steel bars you see from my inside photos are the ones that pull the tower and counter the tilting effect). The tower actually started to lean already even before it was not yet finished, so as people erected additional layers of the tower, they tried to compensate the lean and therefore the tower looks like having a banana-like curve.

We opted to climb up. And the view from above was great. I liked gazing at the Piazza dei Miracoli from the top, and the massive Cathedral is visible, as well as the baptistry from afar. Depending on where you sit, your center of gravity changes, as obviously, when you're on the tilting side, then you have to compensate more for it to stand up straight.

There were several other buildings that can be found in the Piazza dei Miracoli; we only visited the cathedral during our visit in March. However, there is also the Baptistry, as well as the Camposanto (I would visit these two locations later in June). You see the exterior of the Baptistry as well as the Cathedral from the photos above.

Of course, the visit wouldn't be complete if not for me taking photos of other visitors. I somehow do not understand the urge for plenty of people to create this rather very bizarre picture of a visual illusion, one where they extend their hand outwards and pretend that they are supporting the leaning tower. Some of them do it gently, others more forcibly, and some even lay down on the ground and pose in a way that they are even kicking the thing to prevent it from falling. But the most hilarious thing, in my opinion, is when you take photos of these people in a different angle, as I have done in my photos above. It is simply utterly ridiculous, in my opinion. But heck, I guess we all do crazy things when we're traveling, no?

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