Pisa – Tuscany
On Lizzie and Chess’s last day with us we travelled by train into Pisa with the girls having onward tickets to the airport just 5 minutes away. We could not let them go home without having their photographs taken holding up the famous Leaning Tower.
Pisa suffered during World War II and luckily the tower, cathedral and Baptistry survived. They stand in the Campo dei Miracoli which translated means Field of Miracles.
The tower was begun in 1173 on sandy silt subsoil and therefore the Leaning Tower started to tilt even before the third storey was finished in 1274. Despite the shallow foundations, construction continued and the structure was completed in 1350. The tower has attracted many visitors over the years including the Pisan scientist Galileo who climbed to the top of the tower to conduct his experiments on the velocity of falling objects.
The tower was closed for several years while engineers decreased the lean by 14 inches. The tower is now once again open to the public and the last pieces of scaffolding should be removed during 2010.
After the girls very regretfully had to depart for the trip back to the UK Jim and I visited the Cathedral. It was begun by Buscheto in 1064 and today it is one of the finest buildings in Tuscany. The highlights are the carved pulpit (1302-11) by Giovanni Pisano, the painting “Tomb of Emperior Henry VII” (1315) by Tino da Camaino and a mosaic of “Christ in Majesty” completed by Cimabue in 1302. On the outside of the Cathedral are the bronze doors (1180) decorated with relief casts by Bonanno Pisano, the first architect of the Leaning Tower.
The circular Baptistry was begun in 1152 along Roman lines and not finished until 100 years later due to short of cash in a more Gothic style by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. It has a marble pulpit and font and the pillars which support the pulpit feature statues of the Virtues.
Jim and I wandered back through the streets of Pisa after lunch and across the bridge over the River Arno back to the train station passing the Santa Maria della Spina church decorated with miniature spires sheltering statues of the apostles and saints.
There is so much history and we only had a view of what Pisa had to offer.