Italian Language Blog

Not just the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Posted by on Sep 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

Not just the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, or Torre Pendente di Pisa, is set in the beautiful square called Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), and it really is a miracle if you arrive there early on a cold crispy morning: the green of the grass lawn, the white marble of the buildings standing against the dazzling azure sky!

The Leaning Tower is actually the bell tower of the cathedral (Duomo), and it’s part of a bigger complex of monuments including the wonderful cathedral in romanico pisano style, the baptistery, and the cemetery all built in white marble. The square is in fact built over a water table, and if you look carefully at the Duomo you will see that it is also leaning, as are all the buildings in the Campo dei Miracoli. This area was originally a Roman site and studying the Duomo you’ll see many recycled Roman stone blocks, some with inscriptions that were used during its construction in the Middle Ages.

But of course the Tower is the most famous building because it’s tall and… very leaning! I’ve been told that climbing up the stairs of the tower is quite an experience: because of the slope you find yourself going up very steeply on one side and then flattening out on the other and so on. I must confess that I’ve never been on the Tower myself! The first day I went to Pisa to enroll at the University, I discovered that there is “The Curse of the Tower” for university students: every floor you climb is an extra year at Uni, and if you reach the top you’ll never graduate! I’m not superstitious of course, but…

Going back to the Campo dei Miracoli, all the buildings are wonderful masterpieces full of art treasures well worth visiting and you’ll find plenty of information in all the guidebooks. I’d like to mention, however, a lesser-known jewel: Il Museo delle Sinopie. During WWII the Camposanto Monumentale, which is part of the group of buildings in the Campo dei Miracoli, was bombed (by the Allies unfortunately), and the fire destroyed all the XIV and XV century frescoes. However, every cloud has a silver lining: the bomb damage destroyed parts of the frescoes and revealed the sinopie beneath them. These were the original preparatory sketches, drawn in a reddish color (the word sinopia comes from the name of the town Sinope on the Black Sea, where this reddish color originally came from). The sinopie were carefully detached from the walls and taken into the XII century Ospedale di Santa Chiara, on the other side of the road from the baptistery, hidden behind the souvenir stalls that clutter the pavement. The museum is well-organized and very quiet, a welcome break from the crowds of the square. The sinopie are enormous, and there are walkways that enable you to explore them properly. It’s fascinating to see the artist’s ripensamenti (changes of mind), his signature, and all the work that went into preparing a fresco.

Buona visita a Pisa!

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  1. Tower of Pisa:

    Still, the leaning tower of Pisa will be the most well known leaning tower in the world.

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