This is me.
Europe: Pisa

Before I begin, happy holidays to everyone! I'm going to try to finish all my Europe posts TODAY. Uh huh, you read right, TODAY. There have been a few interruptions --- like my Father's snake getting into our couch and the ensuing chaos as everyone tries to get it out --- but I hope I'll get this series done soon. Like in a few hours.

And hopefully, the snake will come out of our overturned couch with the sign Do not sit. SNAKE inside. on it soon. Like in a few hours.

OK, so we're still in Italy, people!

In Pisa, actually. Can anyone tell me what everyone goes to see in Pisa?

My sister shows us the answer.

The tower doesn't lean as much as we thought it would though. Apparently, the government has been hoisting it up as much as possible to prevent the inevitable fate of any building that becomes increasingly unbalanced: utter destruction. According to our witty guide, "we are lucky to see it now since it may collapse tomorrow". That was a direct quote.

up close and personal

We didn't climb it though. For one thing, a ticket can only be gotten two months in advance. There are also very strict rules on anyone who enters its leaning halls. First, you only get to stay there less than 30 minutes. This means one must run up all those flights of stairs, take a photo on top, then run back down said flights of stairs like one is competing in a foot race. Only a little more than a hundred people at a time are allowed to have this privilege of extra exercise since overcrowding could cause --- see above for the fate of all unbalanced buildings --- utter destruction.

I think the building's actually quite pretty.

the pretty building

It's also an architectural mistake. Is this all we came here for, ladies and gentlemen? To see a slightly drunk-looking tower?

Apparently, it is.

We moved on to look at other buildings in Pisa, dear Reader.

the other buildings

We started with the baptistry.

I think it's pretty too.

In the olden days, the unbaptized heathen was refused entrance into God's holy house without first having water poured (or sprinkled?) over him. Thus, it was convenient to have a building for this rite beside the church. So, you know, people could go at it as quickly as possible.

I'm not sure if it went as speedily as my commentary seems to indicate, but that was the general idea.

We couldn't get into the baptistry --- or maybe the tour group didn't bother; I'm not sure --- so we continued on towards the church.

the entrance

See that maroon pillar near the top that sticks out like a sore thumb? The guide announced that it was pilfered from a temple of Venus, and used here instead. Apparently, there is an old tale about how looking at said pillar for five minutes would keep your lover faithful. That's right, just five minutes.

The powers of the pillar would fade after twenty-four hours though, so keeping your partner from straying would involve staring at that column for five minutes every single day. The guide helpfully added that we could take a photo of it to bring home and look at for the required amount of time every morning.

The church doors tells a story.

I forgot what the story was though. Something historical. I was too busy being fascinated by the detail on the doors. I can imagine some long-forgotten artisan hunched over that hunk of metal and pounding for hours on end.

His body must have been pretty sore after all that work.

going inside

Everything was just so cool.

Check out the ceiling.

That's gold leaf at the top, and a really beautiful painting on the other side.

The lamp of Galileo is also pretty known. It's supposed to be the one Galileo, the famous scientist of the 16th century, used to figure out the swings of a pendulum (Physics talk, people). Legend goes he would watch it sway during mass.

That probably meant he wasn't listening to the sermon, but it's still quite an accomplishment.

mosaic work in front

and more detail at the sides

There was just so much to see. Large wall murals were colorfully splashed on the sides of the cathedral, but they were too dark to get on my camera right. At least without fiddling my camera more than usual, and following the tour group didn't leave much time to fiddle.

Here's the kicker though: the baptistry and the church are also leaning. It's not as clear as the tower because they both have bigger foundations, but they are. The guide explained that the soil in Pisa was quite soft, and foundations there needed more work than in other parts of Italy.

We emerged to sit on marble steps and enjoy the view. I actually have some pictures of myself at that moment --- very rare since I'm usually behind the camera --- since my sister was taking the shots.

The weather was fine enough to remove my coat.

My sister also enjoyed the breather.

My parents were actually running around taking shots of the tower, but I'll always remember goofing off on the church steps with my sister.

We also did take the prerequisite tourist shots with the tower behind us. It took a lot of work to get the whole tower into the pictures though.

My sister doing all that work.

My Dad tries out the same thing.

The pictures weren't half-bad though so it must have been worth all that effort.

We left Pisa to the tunes of a flutist playing in the square. It was wonderful.

See the flute?

We stayed only a few hours but it was one of the most memorable parts of our trip.

Daisy on 12/31/2007 12:58:00 PM