Pisa A little out of plumb

Our arrival in Tuscany began with docking in Livorno, Italy. From there we bussed to the little town of Pisa. Surprisingly, we found that Pisa was not along the coast, but about 2.5 miles inland along the River Arno. A short walk from the parking lot took us through a gauntlet of African immigrant vendors selling umbrellas, sunglasses, selfie sticks and knock-off watches and handbags. No Thanks!

Pisa originally came into prominence as the nearest Roman seaport to Genoa. Over time, as the sediments of the Arno river deposited the port city soon became a river port. Over the next several centuries, Pisa was conquered and taken over by Charlemagne, then the vikings and routinely at war with surrounding states. During the 10th century it became the most important city in Tusciae (Tuscany). The city of Pisa then became one of the powerhouse maritime ports from which the Normans pushed invasions further south.

To learn more aboutPisa and its role through the turbulent 12th century, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisa

As you approach the medieval city of Pisa, an arched gate leads to the Piazza dei Miracoli. While the bell tower of the Cathedral, known as "the leaning Tower of Pisa", is the most famous image of the city, it is one of many works of art and architecture in the city's Piazza del Duomo, also known, since the 20th century, as Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), to the north of the old town center. The Piazza del Duomo also houses the Duomo (the Cathedral), the Baptistry and the Campo Santo (the monumental cemetery). The medieval complex includes the above-mentioned four sacred buildings, the hospital and few palaces. The area is framed by medieval walls kept by municipality administration.

The Baptistry (foreground), Duomo, and the Bell Tower (Leaning)
Note- Different roofing materials on the Baptistry as it corresponds to the South.

You may notice that the circular Baptistry is also leaning a bit.

Due to the unique structure of the Round Baptistry, the acoustics provide one of the most amazing effects...

In fact, all of the buildings in this church complex have suffered from unstable ground. The main cathedral (Duomo) has also sunk slightly from one corner. The height of the tower is 55.86 metres (183.27 feet) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 metres (185.93 feet) on the high side. The width of the walls at the base is 2.44 m (8 ft 0.06 in). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 metric tons (16,000 short tons). The tower has 296 or 294 steps (no, we did not have time to climb); the seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase. Prior to restoration work performed between 1990 and 2001, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees, but the tower now leans at about 3.99 degrees. This means that the top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 metres (12 ft 10 in) from the center

Construction of the tower occurred in three stages over 199 years. The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-metre foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning. Construction was subsequently halted for almost a century, because the Republic of Pisa was almost continually engaged in battles with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence. This allowed time for the underlying soil to settle. Otherwise, the tower would almost certainly have toppled. In 1198, clocks were temporarily installed on the third floor of the unfinished construction.

In 1272, construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone, architect of the Camposanto. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other. Because of this, the tower is actually curved (like a banana). Construction was halted again in 1284 when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319. The bell-chamber was finally added in 1372. There are seven bells, one for each note of the musical major scale. The largest one was installed in 1655.

After a phase (1990–2001) of structural strengthening, the tower is currently undergoing gradual surface restoration, in order to repair visible damage, mostly corrosion and blackening.

Everyone tries to correct the lean, few succeed.
inside the Duomo
Farewell Pisa
Created By
Gregg & Patty Gunkel


Gregg & Patty

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