Italy – Not everything in Pisa is at an angle
Mention Pisa and most people instantly think leaning tower.
But the city’s campanile – free standing bell tower – is far from the only building worth seeing there.
Pisa is full of typically Italian architecture, and the finest of it can be found at the Piazza del Duomo.
Consisting of the cathedral, the baptistry, the cemetery and, of course, the leaning tower; the Piazza del Duomo is set in a large green expanse.
The four monuments were constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries, with the spectacular cathedral and baptistry dwarfing their more famous neighbour.
The five-naved cathedral has huge bronze doors and features beautiful statues, including the Madonna and the Pisa Griffin.
Construction on the round Romanesque baptistry – dedicated to John the Baptist – began in the mid-12th century, but it wasn’t actually finished until the 14th. It is the largest building of its kind in Italy.
The ‘monumental cemetery’ or Campo Santo is equally decorative, and contains a large collection of Roman sculptures.
But it is the leaning tower that people flock to see – and climb. Three hundred marble steps and plenty of exertion take you to the top, where large bells can be found on the edges of the highest platform.
The views across the city are well worth the effort, although it can be pretty blustery at the top of the tower and the angle is somewhat disconcerting.
So why the tilt? It began during construction, caused by the foundations being built on ground too soft on one side to support the tower’s weight.
In the decades during which the campanile was built, the tilt increased. Indeed, it continued to fall further forward until the tower was stabilised in the early part of the 21st century.
Incredibly, it means the least well built building in Pisa has become its trademark while perfect formed neighbours remain largely unheralded.