The common perception of Pisa is that it’s a bit crap. There isn’t much to do… or anything at all really, with the obvious exception of the infamous leaning phallus.
That description might seem a tad crude or unfair, but I call it that because that is exact what it is: a massive penis extension – designed to show off the wealth and status of the family who had it built. This is something that makes even more sense (and is therefore even funnier) when you see its position, in the grounds of several other grand buildings.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve always had an affection for the leaning tower, precisely because it’s such a massive failure. The absurd irony of celebrating this monumental cock-up is extremely appealing to me.
The tilt on the thing itself is pretty clear, though obviously it appears less so depending on the angle you view it from.
Far and away the best thing to do is people watch. I remember from the last time I visited just sitting on the grass for a couple of hours watching the various folk who thought their ‘holding up the leaning tower’, or ‘pushing over the leaning tower’ poses were funny and/or original.
There are of course other, more traditional poses you can do in front of such a famous landmark.
I particularly like this one, as it looks like she was posing for me. She wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not slagging her off. I’m more bemused and impressed at the sheer general lack of concern for what other people around about might think. Maybe we could take something out of her book.
The funny thing this time is that you weren’t apparently even meant to go onto the grass at all. A lot of notice was paid to that.
Of course, as big a screw up as it was, Pisa has had the last laugh. If it wasn’t for the tower, there is literally no reason anybody would have heard of the town, never mind for visiting.
This is something I knew all too well. However, since it was sort-of on the way (and Grace had never been), we stopped off for the night. I kind of feel like if you are close to one of the wonders of the world that you haven’t seen, you are obliged to make at least a bit of an effort to do so. Is the tower one of the wonders? Let’s just go with that. Yes, the tower is one of the wonders of the world.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when we got to Pisa. It really wasn’t all that bad. The streets were small and relatively quiet, lined with more of the typically beautiful Italian buildings.
The view down the river was particularly lovely, though I feel like they’re missing a trick by not making the most of that waterfront space. I demand overpriced cafes damnit!
Apparently there are beaches nearby, and I found myself beginning to muse about how it might be nice to spend a lazy week starting off in Pisa and travelling along the Tuscan coast.
Sanity prevailed though. As nice as the architecture can be, there really is f*** all to do here.
Vital statistics about the trip so far… At the point of departure from Pisa, we have walked 39 miles, burned 3660 calories, and spent just over 18 hours total doing it. Phew. Hopefully that will counteract some of the mountains of pistachio gelato that have also been consumed.
Next up is the Cinque Terre, which is the place with all the colourful buildings right on the coast that always gets featured in those ‘TOP PLACES TO VISIT BEFORE YOU DIE’ Buzzfeed style lists. I’ll probably shoot this leg on film, so will keep that blog for later.
Till next time.