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Pisa: The leaning tower, thereof

Posted by daveb on October 22nd, 2007

Let’s be clear about this upfront: Pisa is not a small town. We only saw a corner of it, you know the one with the leaning tower and the tat stalls which pedal all things leaning. I’m certain that there is way more to Pisa, however along with the million other foreign tourists in the famous square, I cannot cannot tell you about any of it.

I was hoping to tell you about how the tower came to lean but curiously, the ‘free’ brochure I got after paying an extortionate 15 Euros to go up it, makes no mention of its lean — “A large portion of denial, please?”

Seriously though, in any other country if a tower was known to be flawed from early-on in the building phase it’d be bulldozed, redesigned and restarted. In Italy, however, it’d be turned into one of the most popular tourist attractions and I for one am glad that they finished it as is.

It turns out that my tour guide was little more than a shepherd to herd us up and down the few hundred stairs in synchronicity with the other ‘tours’ who were coming the opposite way. Still, it’s not everyday that you get to experience one of the Wonders of the World. Walking around the penultimate cake layer, I could really feel the lean–which is both weird and a little scary. (For reasons unbeknown to me, the very top layer didn’t appear to lean as much.)

The human body is an amazing thing you know, I could really feel my internal gyroscope keeping me dead straight as I climbed the spial staircase. Inside the tower, there were infrequent windows–and thus no horizon to use–I was fascinated at how I could work out in which ‘side’ of the tower I was walking without external references (although you could argue that I had no way of confirming or disproving my theory).

Other highlights included eavesdropping on the many discussions on “how pooped” our fellow English-speaking friends really were after the climb and “why don’t they just fit an elevator?”. Also fun was sneakily taking photos of the general public performing silly “look, I’m holding-up/pushing-down [or variation thereof] the tower!”.

(And yes, we struck those same poses too…)

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