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Saturday 18 August 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Pisa

Whenever the name of Pisa is mentioned, everybody knows this university town through its landmark, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is also one of the 7 Wonders of the World before July 7, 2007 (07-07-07). This title has been dropped since the list of the 'New 7 Wonders of the World' was out through an online voting which generated 90 million votes. However, the Leaning Tower will never lose its fame thanks to its marvelous architecture and leaning.

The town of Pisa is about 50 km west of Florence. On May 20, 2006, I bought a train ticket at Stazione Firenze SMN, and the train left the station at 8:57 a.m. At 10:10 a.m., the train arrived at Stazione Pisa Centrale.

The first thing I did was walking into the Tourist Information Centre to get a map of the town and asked for the direction to the Leaning Tower. When I have the route figured out, I hit on the streets of Pisa right away.

Walking through the streets of Pisa was a very pleasant experience for me with all the multi-coloured buildings and signboards.

When I walked along the corridors of these buildings, I came across some views through the arched walkway with a hive of activities.

While I was reading the map to look for the direction to Piazza dei Miracoli, this construction worker showed me the direction. He was so willing that the posed for me as the Leaning Tower. I would like to call him the Leaning Hunk of Pisa!

A few steps ahead stands the road sign pointing the way to Piazza del Duomo. It doesn't matter whether it's Piazza dei Miracoli, Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza del Duomo, it means the same place anyway.

I have finally arrived at one of the most beautiful squares in Europe! From where I came from, this white wall of the Camposanto (Cemetery) was on my right.

When I went round the square, I could see the Duomo (Cathedral) with the Torre Pendente (Bell Tower). Only then I knew that the Leaning Tower was actually built as the bell tower for the Cathedral. The Cathedral had been overshadowed since the imperfection of its bell tower had occurred.

How could I leave this place without a self-portrait? Haha! Oh gosh! I didn't realise that the Italian sun had 'baked' me to such tan.

Walking further east of Piazza dei Miracoli, I now have all the three Romanesque buildings set among the sprawling lawns of the square. The Battistero (Baptistry), Duomo and Torre Pendente.

I could only see how much the Torre Pendente has leaned out of position by comparison to the neighbouring building.

I wonder when the tower will collapse completely! Haha, just kidding. The foundation of the Leaning Tower had been retrofitted recently, and according to the monitoring, the tower will remain stable for a while, and continue to lean for another 100 years before it needs another retrofitting.

Do you notice that the trees on the far left are also slanted? Have you ever wondered why all the trees want to be leaning also? Haha! Interesting, isn't it?

The slanting tower looks a bit worrying, but it is still safe for people to climb to the top, with a limited number at a time, of course!

Will I be able to make it to the top? Well, I've got the ticket and could not put it to waste!

I was already half way up the tower, but I've got to rest for a while. While resting, why not I appreciate these columns of Romanesque architecture first?

The bell is hung somewhere near to the top of the tower. Hurray, I was just a few steps away from reaching the top!

The effort of climbing the tower was not wasted with this spectacular aerial view of the Pisa town covered with brown-tiled roofs.

In fact I could see the same spectacular views in any direction on top of the tower. It was really a one-in-a-life-time experience for me!

I did not forget to take a shot of the Duomo and Battistero when I was half way up the tower.

When I was on top, I could see that the Duomo's layout is actually a cross.

Soon after I was down from the Leaning Tower, I entered the Duomo to see how it looks inside. It is as beautiful as it looks from the outside.

The dome of the vault of the main altar is painted with a very nice portrait of Christ flanked by two angels.

The Duomo is also lined with a series of tinted-glass windows depicting the bible stories.

After I was satisfied with my browsing of the interior of the Duomo, I started to inspect the Battistero in detail.

When I mean detail, I mean capturing the detail of the building. The cylindrical Battistero has a lot of carvings around its perimeter.

I left Piazza dei Miracoli for the train station by walking south along Via Roma. When I was on Ponte Solferino, I spotted a very interesting Gothic church, Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina, along the River Arno.

Again, I was having a closer inspection of the church to see the details.

Being satisfied with what I've seen in a day in Pisa, I walked southbound along Via F Crispi to Stazione Pisa Centrale for the train back to Florence. :)

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

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