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Pisa - October 2007

Pisa is just a short train journey from Florence, and cannot be missed.

Although Pisa is a pleasant University City, the main attraction is of course the 'Torre Pendente' or Leaning Tower. I had not realised that the tower is only one part of the amazing 'Campo Dei Miracoli' or 'Garden of Miracles'. The leaning tower is simply the bell tower for the Cathedral or 'Duomo', as is Giotto's Campanile in Florence.

The Campo dei Miracoli consists of the Circular Baptistery, the Duomo (Cathedral), the Campanile, (Leaning Tower), and the Camposanto (the monumental cemetery).

All the buildings in the Campo dei Miracoli are built on the same soft subsoil, and all tilt to some degree.

Pisa -  Campanile
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Pisa - Campo dei Miracoli pisa - Duomo & Campanile
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Pisa - Campanile

After being closed to the public in 1990 for engineering work to stabilize the foundations, the tower was opened in December 2001, and you can now climb to the top.

It is the strangest feeling as you climb within the thickness if the walls, as you have no visual reference of what is horizontal, so as you climb the 296 spiral steps you feel as if you are leaning into the centre, or the outer wall, or leaning forward or backward, but your eyes tell you that it is quite level.

The Leaning Tower is beautifully made with white and grey marble, with columns and arches. The detail is superb.
When you reach the bell tower at the top, it is quite open and you feel a little unsafe, as there is only a small metal railing to stop you falling over the side.
I realised as I was standing on the top of the tower, that I was standing exactly where the great mathematician, astronomer & physicist Galileo was supposed to have dropped balls of different weights off the top of the tower, and deduced that they all fell at the same rate.

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Pisa - Campanile Detail

Pisa - Campanile Detail

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Pisa - Campanile Top Pisa - Campanile Bell
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After the obligatory visit to the top of the tower. I recommend a long look around the Duomo and the Baptistery.
The Baptistery is perfectly round, and has the most amazing acoustic qualities. While we were there a single chorister sang a simple Hymn, and it completely filled the room with perfect sound.
The Duomo in comparison is huge, and is filled with light. It has a gilded ceiling and a frescoed dome.
   
Pisa - Duomo Detail Pisa - Duomo Interior
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