The leaning tower of a maritime republic

Trout lips kiss from a tourist who fell in love with the place

After a few hours in the birthplace of the Renaissance, the center of Medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of all times, we moved to our next Tuscan destination for the day—a maritime republic of Italy, Pisa.

On the way to our second major destination of the Tuscany Valley day tour

The city of Pisa in the capital of the province that bears the same name. It’s an hour drive from Florence along verdant hills and picturesque landscapes. The journey to the famous leaning tower was a series of sceneries that would be make perfect artworks if caught on canvas. It must have been inspiring for the artists to live and work in this valley. With that thought, it’s no wonder why Tuscany was deemed as the place where art reached its finest forms.

Did you know that there are at least two other leaning towers in Pisa?

Pisa holds a good number of interesting landmarks to check out like the Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knight’s Square), the second main square of the city was the political center in medieval Pisa; the Borgo Stretto, a medieval neighborhood with avenues along the river Arno; several palaces like the Medici Palace, once owned by the ruler of Pisa before it was acquired by Medici, the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) where Galileo Galilei showed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany the planets he had discovered with his telescope, and the 14th-century Gothic building of Palazzo Ganbacorti with its interior frescoes showcasing Pisa’s sea victories; and more than twenty historic churches including the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, the small Church of St. Sixtus, one of the best preserved early Romanesque buildings in Pisa, the Church of St. Francis, the ancient Churches of San Frediano and San Nicola, and many more.

The most famous landmark lies within the walled area of Pisa’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, a center of importance of European medieval art and an architectural complex regarded as one of the world’s finest—the Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles) also knows as Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square).

Home to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles) aka Piazza del Duomo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and regarded as one of the world’s finest architectural complexes.

Owned by the Catholic Church, the Cathedral Square is dominated by four great religious edifices— the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) and the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Pisa Cathedral (center) is the oldest building and the heart of the piazza, and the Camposanto Monumentale (left) is believed to be built around sacred soil shipped from Golgotha.

The Pisa Cathedral is the heart of Piazza del Duomo. The medieval cathedral, entitled to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of Assumption) was constructed in 1064 in the Romanesque style of architecture and was destroyed by a fire in 1595, which destroyed most of the Renaissance artworks. Upon reconstruction, several parts of the cathedral were replaced or redecorated such as massive bronze main doors, the interior black and white marbles, the frescoed walls and gilded dome.

It is believed that in this church that Galileo formulated his theory about the pendulum’s movement by watching the swinging of the original incense lamp hanging from the nave’s ceiling.

The Pisa Baptistry was constructed in 1152 to replace an older baptistery and upon completion in 1363, it became the second building to rise in the Piazza dei Mircaoli. Here’s an interesting fact, since the building was constructed on the same unstable sand as the tower and cathedral, the Baptistry leans 0.6 degrees toward the cathedral.

The Pisa Baptistry (left) fronting the cathedral is the 2nd oldest structure in the square.

At the northern edge of the Cathedral Square is the historical building of Camposanto Monumentale, believed to be erected around sacred soil shipped from Golgotha, thus the name “campo santo” or holy field. Legend has it that bodies decompose within 24 hours after burial. To differentiate it from the later-established urban cemetery in Pisa, the term “monumental” was used.

The most famous building in the complex would be the freestanding bell tower of the piazza we all know as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is the third oldest building built in the square that took 199 years to complete.

The world-renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa tilts 3.9 meters from its correct vertical position.

It is due to insufficient foundation on soft ground that the 183-foot, 8-storey housing seven bells (one for each note of the musical scale) tower is tilting, which started as early as the construction of the 2nd level. Thanks to restoration efforts, the tilting was reduced from 5.5 degrees to 3.9 degrees, meaning the horizontal displacement from the tower’s top is now 3.9 meters from its correct vertical position.

Touring with this lovely & gracious family, the Asistidos.

Here’s a trivia: Did you know that there are at least two other leaning towers in Pisa? They can be found at the southern end of central Via Santa Maria, and the other halfway through the Piagge riverside promenade.

Our first visit to Pisa was short but sweet. I strongly feel that we will find ourselves back to explore more of the city in the future. Pisa is such a lovely place, just like the rest of the cities in this Italian region.

As a parting gift, Tuscany treated us to a beautiful sunset with the River Arno and the valley’s green hills as its majestic foreground. It was bidding us, “Arrivederci.”

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 10, 2014.



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