This time last week I decided to hop on a random flight over to Italy to see one of the world’s most infamous attractions: The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
At first glance, stood there in the torrential rain, I wondered what all the hype was about. It was a building in the middle of a grass area, next to a rather large church. It hardly even looked like it was leaning. However, throughout the next two days I grew more and more fond of this rather unusual structure.
The extent to which the tower leans appears differently depending on where you are stood. Clearly not in prime position on arrival, I walked around the area to observe further.
From some parts of the city the view of the tower is really quite remarkable; surrounded by other (upright) buildings, it really shows off its’ ‘lean’. Every time I turned a corner and the tower appeared into sight from a different angle, I couldn’t help but grab the camera and start taking yet more pictures. How many pictures can you take of one building? A lot it seems!
And speaking of pictures, I really did try hard to create my own version of the typical tourist ‘leaning pose’ in front of the tower. But it didn’t matter how many times I moved left, or right, or forward, or back, and how many times I changed location, I just couldn’t master it! Serious fail on my part! See top photo for my best effort!
Italy has got to be one of the best places I’ve ever been for food and wine; two of my greatest loves! So Pisa was the perfect place for some serious over indulgence! During two days I managed to consume two large Italian pizzas and a pasta dish as well as a continental breakfast! And for the wine, well lets just say more than a couple of bottles were opened!
Aside from eating and drinking, I did also manage to see quite a bit of the city. The streets are quiet and picturesque; just as I would expect of a sleepy Italian city. Italian coffee shops and weekend market stalls lined the streets. There were numerous souvenir stalls and ‘looky-looky men’ as we call them where I’m from, trying to sell you everything from umbrellas, to tea towels, to fake designer sunglasses. Many of the street sellers were trying to sell souvenirs from Africa, which I thought rather strange seen as I was no where near Africa. Nevertheless, I now have a Senegalese elephant sat on my shelf in my lounge, courtesy of the African, Italian street seller in Pisa.
Climbing the Leaning Tower was an experience to remember. Although I had not long previously consumed half a litre of Italy’s finest red wine, I was pretty confident it was not the alcoholic consumption that caused the disoriented sensation I experienced upon entering the tower.
Straight away the ‘lean’ was evident, even more so than from the outside; the floor of the tower steeply sloping from one side to the other. Climbing the stairs certainly was an unusual experience. Although the steps were the same gradient all the way around, the ‘steepness’ changed dramatically every few steps. One side of the tower it felt as if you were walking along a flat; a weird sensation because your head knows you are climbing stairs but your legs don’t feel like they are! The other side was incredibly steep. The climb goes very quickly, and before I knew it I was at the top admiring the views!
The views of the city were lovely. There were the colourful, picturesque Italian buildings of the city, the magnificent church next door and the bapistry, and the mountains in the distance. It was a picture perfect view. There were lots of old bells at the top, and a glass covered center to remind you of how high you are, and enable you to look down to middle of the tower to where you entered.
Aside from a rather wobbly climb around the tower, the popular things to do in the city include visiting the church and the bapistry, both of which demonstrate fantastic architecture. There is also a rather unusual cemetery, which is the resting place of many famous Pisans, and the museum of Pisa.
Overall, Pisa is a lovely little city; boasting lots of Italian tradition. And for me, good food, great wine and a world famous tourist attraction made for a perfect weekend!