Please don’t hold up the tower – Pisa, Italy
Overall, there isn’t much to see in Pisa; it was heavily bombed during WW II and much of it was destroyed. Most of what remained are the historical sights north of the river Arno, the most famous of which is the leaning tower of Pisa.
So why does the tower of Pisa lean? Construction of the tower started in 1173. 5 years later, with three of the eight stories completed, the tower’s foundation had begun to settle unevenly on the ground (a mix of clay and sand). A war started soon after between Pisa and Genoa and construction was stopped, allowing the tower to settle even more. That’s why the tower, to this day, tilts to the south.
Probably everyone has seen photos of the tower. Still, it took me by surprise: 1) it is shorter than what I expected and 2) seen from the right angle, you can really see the lean. It didn’t seem so pronounced in pictures I’ve seen.
Everyone makes a big deal about the tower because it’s leaning but we were actually more impressed with the immensity of the Cathedral and the whiteness of it all. We didn’t go in though. There was a huge line of people and it was incredibly hot. We had a beer at a small cafe overlooking the square instead, watching people do that thing where they pretend to hold the tower from toppling over.
The whole area is very, very touristy. Still, I really recommend a visit as a day trip – we stored our bags at the train station (which a lot of people seem to do) and walked the 20 or so minutes to the site.
Addendum: Pisa regularly makes it on the list of the World’s Worst tourist traps. I agree.
TIP: I think Pisa is worth visiting as a daytrip but not worth an overnight stay. You can travel there independently as we did which was pretty easy but can be time consuming. If rushed for time, I recommend this tour – a full day tour from Florence that takes you to both Pisa and Lucca (which I wrote about here).
Have you been to Pisa? What do you think?
Related: 3 Days in Magical Florence
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