Day 11 of the great European adventure of September, 2016
Another room service breaky thanks to yet another earlyish start, (left cabin at 7.30). We bussed to Pisa to the infamous tower. Yep, it’s definitely not straight. But, because you can’t park anywhere near the Miracle Square, which is where you will find the Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery , (the big dome, planetarium looking building), we parked a few minutes walk away. We were surprised to see a Subway restaurant within the city walls, as well as shops, restaurants, and a University. I believe the University is free to attend as long as you qualify in what you are studying within five years, otherwise you are liable for the whole cost incurred while you were attending. That seems like such a good idea.
Anyway, we had our first view of the very wonky bell tower. Someone messed up in about 1173 AD. This was to be the free standing bell tower to the Cathedral in Miracle Square. The happy folk were trying to make a Cathedral that was bigger than what those show-offs in Rome had built, so the added an extra 20 metres on to the length of the Cathedral to make it 100 metres. The bell tower was supposed to be that in height. The one thing that they hadn’t taken in to account was that the ground was too soft for the tower.
Alas, during the construction of the first two floors, the tower started tilting. According to our guide, the name of the architect is not known, but apparently folk were not impressed and he seems to have been killed. A second attempt to build it (and straighten it marginally) resulted in a slightly crescent shape and it ended 55.86 metres, not even two thirds of the original plan. The width of the walls at ground level is just under 2.5 metres and it has around 295 steps. It’s funny, over the years, the steps have been worn down from use, but the part of the step varies according to what side of the tower you are on.
I believe there were a few more towers in Italy that ended up leaning, with most of them finally obeying the laws of gravity.
This tower managed to get to a leaning angle of 5.5 degrees prior to restoration works between 1990 and 2001. It now has a lean of 3.99 degrees. Let’s face it, they can’t fix it totally, or it will just be a bell tower with a bit of a bend in it…… and a fair few folk wouldn’t have a job.
Well, I climbed it, all the way to the top, where incidentally, the centre of the tower is displaced 3.9 metres. …. That is a decent amount. The view was amazing, then I discovered you could go up one more level, where the bells are.
The area around Pisa seems to be swarming with people trying to sell you sunglasses, umbrellas, jewellery, ‘real’ Gucci and Prada handbags and of course Rolex, (whoops, sorry, ROLLAX) watches for five Euro. If you make eye contact, they follow you, hounding you to buy whatever it is they manage to carry while pursuing you.
The Baptistery is like a dome without the Cathedral. It doesn’t have any fanciness inside because I believe in the middle ages, thousands of folk would get baptised in one day and they didn’t want anyone wasting time.
As I said they were quite competitive with the Cathedral and compared it with Rome, (just quietly, yesterday I went to St Peters in Rome, and Rome wins). It is a beautiful Cathedral, with amazing art work inside. It is having restoration works done on it.
On the way back to the bus, I did in fact buy a compact umbrella for my daughter, just not from one of the fellas with the watches and handbags.
When I got back from Pisa, I hopped straight on a shuttle bus to the town of Livorno, only about five minutes from port. It is quite a nice town. I just missed the ‘covered market’ but was able to amuse myself with some shopping. I popped in to a McDonalds to use their conveniences (no brainer, when looking for a toilet in a strange town) only to see they were advertising gluten free burgers, I wondered why they don’t have them in other countries.
Now back on the boat, I think I will shoot upstairs for and ice cream and swim, (Carnival ships have softserve machines) before I come back down to get ready for THE meal of this cruise…… The Chef’s table. More about that tomorrow.
We arrive in France in the morning, Marsielle.
Until then, arrivederci!