World Travel

Tuscany, Italy

Pisa

There is more to Pisa than the leaning tower, but growing weary near the end of our trip, we focussed on the Campo di Miracoli, a wonderful complex comprising a cathedral, a baptistery, a cemetery and the leaning tower itself. It's now again possible to climb to the top of the tower (15 Euro), although access is restricted to small groups visiting half an hour, each having it's own timeslot.

An interesting text by the Discovery Channel (edited):

Italy's Pisa Tower Declared Stable By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News Aug. 24, 2004
Reporting on the present conditions of the monument at the 32nd World Geological Conference in Florence, Italy, Turin University's Michele Jamiolkowski, president of the committee for the protection of the tower, said that the famous tilt has been finally halted. Straightened by half a degree, the monument has stabilized for the first time in more than eight centuries. "Apart from seasonal, cyclic movements, the tower has been basically motionless since September 2003. We believe geotechnical stabilization has been achieved". Cyclic displacements include the tower heating up at sunrise and slightly leaning to the west before returning to the original position. The restoration has made the tower safe for the next 300 years, an achievement unimaginable 12 years ago, when the monument was so far off of perpendicular that it risked collapsing. The soft, sandy subsoil is what has given the 179-foot tower its lean since Bonanno Pisano began building it in 1173.

It first started to subside when it was only 30 feet high. Undeterred, masons continued the work, adding more levels and using columns of varying length in the vain effort to straighten the slant as the tower grew higher. The tower was completed 180 years later, with the bell tower placed on top in 1350. Since then, no fewer than 17 committees have debated on how best to correct the monument's increasingly drunken angle. The archives of the Opera Primaziale, the body responsible for the tower's care, are full of schemes proposed over the past 150 years. The present scheme involved several experimental techniques, including putting 800 tons of lead counterweights on the side opposite the lean.

At the end, experts adopted the simplest and most intuitive solution: digging out some earth from the side away from the tilt to allow the tower to settle more evenly. More than 40 drills were used to remove 38 cubic meters of earth, while the tower � 14,000 tons of intricately carved white marble � was steadied by steel cables attached to the first tier and anchored to the ground. "The key point of the project has been finding out that a slight decrease of the inclination would have stabilized the tower," Carlo Viggiani of Naples University commented. Closed since January 1990, after experts noticed that its inclination had increased at a rate of 1 millimeter a year, the straightened tower reopened to the public on Dec. 15, 2001. Guided tours of 30 people at a time are allowed to climb the 294 steps up the spiral stairway to the bell chamber.

The Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa Detail of the Leaning Tower. It doesn't seem possible that it can still stand, leaning at such an angle
The Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Detail of the Leaning Tower. It doesn't seem possible that it can still stand, leaning at such an angle
The wonderful entrance to the Cemetry with not a tourist in sight (rare) Inside the Cemetry
The wonderful entrance to the Cemetery with not a tourist in sight (rare)
Inside the Cemetery
One of the marvelous tombstones in the Cemetry Inside the Cemetry
One of the marvelous tombstones in the Cemetery
Inside the Cemetery
This panel seems to show the different layers of a Fresco Inside The Cathedral
This panel seems to show the different layers of a Fresco
Inside The Cathedral
My ticket for climbing the tower People waiting to climb to the top of the tower. Look at the lean
My ticket for climbing the tower
People waiting to climb to the top of the tower. Look at the lean
The first flight of stairs leaning up the tower are relatively wide. The stairs seem worn unevenly due to the lean of the tower The view to the Cathedral and the Baptistry from the first viewing point of the Tower
The first flight of stairs leaning up the tower are relatively wide. The stairs seem worn unevenly due to the lean of the tower
The view to the Cathedral and the Baptistery from the first viewing point of the Tower
The view down to the Cathedral from the first viewing point of the Tower Looking down from the tower
The view down to the Cathedral from the first viewing point of the Tower
Looking down from the tower
The last flight of stairs up the tower narrow considerably On the top of the Leaning Tower. Police guard all three viewing platforms and tell you when your viewing time is over to return down
The last flight of stairs up the tower narrow considerably
On the top of the Leaning Tower. Police guard all three viewing platforms and tell you when your viewing time is over to return down
View from the top of the tower View from the top
View from the top of the tower
View from the top
View from the top View from the top. You can see the first viewing platform below in this "external" shot
View from the top
View from the top. You can see the first viewing platform below in this "external" shot
The top of the Cathedral Another "external" shot from the tower
The top of the Cathedral
Another "external" shot from the tower
Pisa stadium seen from the top of the tower Time to walk down again
Pisa stadium seen from the top of the tower
Time to walk down again
The secluded area behind the tower Plaque inside the tower recalling Galileo's experiments with gravity which took place here
The secluded area behind the tower
Plaque inside the tower recalling Galileo's experiments with gravity which took place here
The tower Peace flags are omnipresent in large numbers in Italy
The tower
Peace flags are omnipresent in large numbers in Italy
Figure peering down from a wonderful old house facade in Pisa Nice Hotel Europa where we stayed the night
Figure peering down from a wonderful old house facade in Pisa
Nice Hotel Europa where we stayed the night
The garden of Hotel Europa Droplets on a water lily in the gardens
The garden of Hotel Europa
Droplets on a water lily in the gardens
We returned to Campo del Miracoli the next morning, here is one of the back doors to the Cathedral Used to be the favourite car of the Italians, but times have changed...
We returned to Campo del Miracoli the next morning, here is one of the back doors to the Cathedral
Used to be the favourite car of the Italians, but times have changed...

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