A day trip to Pisa
We were gifted with a beautiful, sunny day for our visit to Pisa.
When we visited Florence in 2003, we made a day trip by train to Pisa so that we could climb to the top of the Leaning Tower. Unfortunately, it was so windy that day that the tower was closed. In 2021, we returned to Pisa in hopes of finally making that climb.
The train ride takes about an hour and then it’s about a 30-minute walk from the station to the tower and cathedral complex. By the time we arrived, it was time for lunch. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating and a view of the tower:
It was only after lunch when I went inside to pay that I realized that this was the exact restaurant we ate at in 2003 (we had a delightful lunch then, too). We were unknowingly retracing our steps.
Admission to the tower is by timed-entry ticket. When our time came, after showing our vaccination cards and having our temperatures taken, we were ushered into the center of the tower to wait for the previous group to descend. Looking out the tower’s ground-floor door across to the nearby cathedral (above), the tilt is already evident.
Looking up into the tower, it’s clear that it is basically a hollow cylinder surrounded by the staircase. By 1990, the tower was listing by 5.5 degrees. Since then, stabilization efforts have decreased the tilt to 3.97 degrees (meaning that the top leans “only” 12 ft 10 in from the vertical).
There are 257 steps to the top and most are well-worn like the one below. In addition to compensating for the tilt ~ on one side you brace against the outer wall, on the other side you brace against the inner wall ~ you have to pay more attention to your footing. We’ve climbed taller towers ~ the cathedral in Cologne comes to mind ~ but I don’t think any were as tricky as this.
Of course, there’s a great view from the top. But just as interesting to me was the view at ground level. It’s really fun watching the other tourists pose for their “I’m holding up the tower!” photo.
After succeeding in our quest to summit The Leaning Tower, we returned to Florence. When our time in Florence was over, we rented a car and headed south to the Val d’Orcia, a region known for beautiful landscapes. Along the way, we stopped for lunch in Siena, just as we did in 2003. But that’s another story.