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Adorable Chick

Italy, Greece & Montenegro diary : Day 5 - 6th May 2018

The Historic city of Pisa is nestled close to the western coast of the Tuscan region of Italy. This metropolitan city attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. Situated on the alluvial plains of river Arno, the city lies 80 kilometres to the west of Florence. The city grew famous due to its LEANING TOWER. But this tower is not the only leaning tower in the city. There are couple of other lesser known towers that stand in a leaning position here. Various studies showed that the nature of the soil in the city, could be causing the towers to lean.

'Pisa' found itself in our itinerary as an easy day trip from Florence. In a bid to visit the famous LEANING TOWER, we boarded a train that morning from the FIRENZE CAMPO DI MARTE station. In less than 15 minutes reached the Santa Maria NOVELLA station (main station in Florence). A direct train from here reached us to Pisa central. We saved a lot of time as train tickets were booked well in advance . Outside the Pisa station, in a small novelty store, we purchased return tickets for a shuttle bus to the " Leaning Tower". The bus journey lasted for about 15 minutes and dropped us right at the tower entrance.

The brown coloured dome seemed to be a common 'cathedral characteristic' in the Tuscan area. It was similar to the Duomo in Florence. We spotted this dome peeking out of a fortified structure in front of us. High walls ran along 4 sides, nearly forming a square. A tall, arched gate, opened up to the PIAZZA MIRACOLI (Square of miracles). This place is declared as a HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO. Walking in through the gate, we saw beautiful green lawns surrounding the square. At the left end of the square was the Bapistery, the Cathedral & the Leaning Tower, all placed one behind the other in that order. We were overjoyed at the beautiful sight.

Tidy Desk

The LEANING TOWER was indeed just a Bell Tower of the Cathedral, which simply rose to fame due to its slanting position. Hugging the eastern walls today are locker rooms and an office. We felt immediate fascination for the entire setting. The building with a domed brown roof is the BAPISTERY. It is cylindrical in shape and built of white Marble. Loaded with intricate works of art on its external side, the Bapistery is sensational. We couldn't visit its interiors due to shortage of time. A Hole in the centre of this dome facilitates passage of sunlight, naturally illuminating its interiors. We moved over to the Cathedral. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. It is the seat of the Archbishop.

The Ornamental & geometrical marble facade, is designed to display four levels of balcony like structures at the top portion, with pillars of varied heights running parallel to each other. We could spot high risen windows inside these balcony structures. Three green, heavy bronze doors form the cathedral entrance. The arched designs above each of these doors is commendable.

The colourful marble inserts placed in-between the arched designs and the doors, take the designing to another level. Parts of its exteriors are made of multi coloured marble, mosaic and bronze structures. The Heavy Bronze doors are impressive with their intricate artistry and craftsmanship. These were the contributions of artists from Florence. We were impressed with the brownish bronze relief sculptures embellishing the doors. One such Greenish Bronze door is said to be the door of SAINT RAINERIUS, that shares stories of the New Testament through its 24, individual, Bronze relief structures. This door holds a record of being the first of its kinds, made in Italy. We spent a long time in total admiration of this miraculous cathedral.

The Interiors of the Cathedral witnesses a combination of Pisan & Roman Architecture. The ancient Pisan Sailors, impressed by the Middle Eastern architecture during the course of their travels, incorporated a few of those Islamic styles in these interiors.

We walked towards the leaning tower. It was a dream come true. The Tower's elevation is heeled with 294 steps that twine their way to the top. The construction of the tower lasted 176 years. This was mainly due to shortage of funds. Huge expenses were already incurred on the many wars fought in close succession, stretching to centuries. The interesting fact of the tower is that it initially leaned towards the north. It currently leans southward. The photography mania hit us, with the Tower as our backdrop. Our climb up the tower was scheduled at 11:30 am.

We had purchased online tickets in advance, directly on the website, for the tower climb. We produced our tickets in the office, accessed our allocated lockers, placed our belongings in the safe and joined the queue for a climb. 45 people are allowed to climb the tower at a time. The security incharge seemed quite strict. We couldn't wait to get in. To the right, inside the entrance was a huge board displaying dimension details of the Tower. We could see the glass covered floor at the roof level, from the ground level. It seemed like we were looking into an inverted water well. The Marble spiral stairs didn't seem so steep. We began to climb. There was enough space for just one person to get through comfortably. There were marble walls on either sides. We had to stop often to help returning tourists get past. There were a few open stone windows at regular intervals.

We would take a peek outside to gauge the height at which we stood from the ground level, each time we reached one. We could feel ourselves slanting to our right, in a few turns. It was exciting. We finally reached the top. The circular viewing arena was railed completel