Ahh, Pisa...such a tease-a, so many beautiful girls but they're all Italian or pretend to be :) Pisa is a college town so there was a gaggle of giggles. It was also the first of a few high concentration tourista areas. Wow, every kind of person that could possibly annoy you..um, i mean, very cultural.
You didn't actually think the first pic would be of a tower leaning did you? I spent more time ogling the baptistery which is why it got the first pic spot. A lot of time contemplating a lot of things sitting here at night with all the buildings lit up and the shadows hiding lovers and drunks and centuries of meticulous work…in marble, no less. The basic format is to have a baptistery, a duomo (cathedral), a bell tower (who knew the leaning tower was a bell tower?) and a graveyard all connected or near each other. As an astute tourista pointed out: "The Catholics, they got you covered from birth to death and after."
It's amazing what you can fund in the name of religion. The Pisans basically promised a cut to some Spanish mercenaries to "re-locate" their own countrymen further south, becoming the hicks of Ancient Italy, and steal their land and possessions so they could afford to hire architects from yet another part of the country to build and design these structures. All paid for by ill-begotten funds…is this starting to sound like Illinois politics? The US has one official civil war. The Italians, they've fought countless over the years and they're still not done. I wish I could say I cared as much about my legacy.
The second shot is of the duomo and tower. It kinda gives a perspective of how the angle works. There's a whole story as to why it's like this but to me a lot of the buildings seemed tilted. The Arno River runs through Pisa to the sea so there's a constant battle with marshlands-kinda like Grayslake in Illinois. The stairway to the top reminds me a little of the Magic House in St. Louis. I wasn't sure which way I was leaning but I was definitely leaning...and by day 11 a couple of tall Morrettis at lunch or a carafe of wine were standard so yes I had a couple of drinks before ascending the close to 300 steps.
Pix#3 & 4 are from the top.
The first thought, no, first modern thought that comes to mind in the face of such majesty is what a contractor would do these days when getting this type of project. First, they'd get an 8-ball of cocaine and then pitcher of beer, or vice versa, and start working on the invoice for 15,000 tons of marble with custom carvings. The second thing they'd do is get more cocaine, hire a bunch of friends, order another pitcher, and call their wives to let them know that they just got a huge job that would literally last for generations and they'd be up late crunching the numbers. Maybe that's how they did it in the 12th century, too. To tell the truth, I'm not sure there's much difference between a line of coke and the espressos they serve over here.
The last pic is supposed to represent how much detail goes into the architecture. I have tons of photos of this as I was endlessly fascinated at all points of my trip by the hidden artistry of the country. The duomo, the baptistery, the tower, are all diaramas dripping with symbolism of stories long forgotten by most. Good stuff but a day was enough.
One foodie note: I had been hankering for a wurstel pizza...just sounded like something I'd like. While I waited to check in to my room with both packs keeping me company I did have a liter of morretti and a wurstel pizza with patate frittes. Basically, a pizza with a hotdog and fries on top. I guess I belonged with the touristas!
One traveler note: On the walk from the hotel back to the stazione in the morning, I had my dualie pack system going and I passed two Americans on bikes. Probably in their fifties, businessmen on vacation I would guess. I overhear one saying to the other: "That guy knows what he's doing!" It was probably in jest but it kick-started a travel rhythm that carried me through the rest of the trip.