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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is iconic and easily recognizable when in this town, or even just passing on the train or roadway. All the times we’ve visited the Field of Dreams as it’s called, Gary and I never climbed the tower. With all the opportunities, it never was a “good time” to do it.
We came to find out, that our good friend Victoria who lives in Florence never climbed the tower either. Victoria’s a lovely ex-pat from California, tour guide, blogger, and author. We meet up occasionally, and of course, always stay connected by WhatsApp, So here we are, living in Italy, all have visited several times… but none of us made it up to the top of the tower.
This all changed in November when we coordinated train schedules with Victoria taking the train from Florence and us from Lucca. We would meet at the San Rossore train stop in Pisa and take the short walk together to the Field of Dreams. It was a beautiful day and we were all looking forward to finally accomplishing a “bucket list” item.
Tickets to Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Tickets can be purchased at the building near the tower, however, it’s recommended to purchase them online ahead of time, before your visit. It’s a very easy process. There are different sites you can buy tickets and some might offer discounts, so investigate before purchasing.
Depending on the time of year, it could be very crowded and you take the chance of not being able to go inside the tower if you don’t buy your tickets ahead of time. To climb the tower, you must book a time slot, which is about every thirty minutes or so. Each timeslot only allows a certain amount of people to climb the tower.
There are 251 steps to the top and takes approximately thirty minutes. The climb itself isn’t difficult but we’ve heard some people experience feeling dizzy or vertigo from the tight, spiral staircase. I will say while waiting and standing inside the bottom of the tower for our appropriate time to make the climb, we all felt a bit off kilter. We hadn’t even taken one step up – and already all of us were feeling the slant. It was eerie.
The old marble steps are visibly worn and creviced in the center from hundreds of years of use. Some parts of the climb became more difficult, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. Subsequently, Gary hit the nail on the head. You can easily figure out the side of the tower you are currently on. The stairs are influenced by the lean of the tower. When we ascended on the “top side,” the climb became more difficult than when on the side of the tower closest to the ground. It’s difficult to explain but most definitely a weird experience.
Ready to make the climb
Closeup of the beautiful tower
Happy we did it
Just amazing views
We did it – finally!
Arriving at the Top
Arriving at the first level, it’s a bit daunting when you see there’s only a slight guardrail to keep you from falling off the edge. Despite that, the views of the city of Pisa and surrounding Tuscany are breathtaking. The perspective of the Field of Miracles with the Cathedrale and Baptistery below is amazing. We all took our time and captured spectacular photos with our cellphones. Taking our time, we walked around the platform. I slid my hand along the cold stone of the tower, using it as a guide when walking up the steep side. Gliding my fingertips along the bumpy, stone, white structure I call to mind the history of this iconic monument.
We climbed to yet another floor from this platform for even better views. I’m happy a cage encompassed this level. With the day so clear, we could see for miles. I had read the seven large brass bells at this level correspond to each note of the musical scale. Today, thank goodness, they just function as decoration, as we were standing right next to them. I imagine at one time they existed to use in a warning and for celebration for the city of Pisa.
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This tower as we all know has a controversial history. The painstaking work it took to erect, the turmoil right from the start with the many problems and issues. The men who years later carried out and complete it after it was left unfinished. The engineers who continually put forth the effort to counterbalance it, so it truly won’t lean much more. It’s truly an incredible piece of history.
Walking back to the train station, it was unanimous, we were all thrilled with the experience. Parting ways at the station, Victoria headed back to Florence while we waited for our train to Lucca.
Dave GregoryAugust 4, 2022 at 3:08 pm
Gary and Ilene,
I am so glad you finally got to climb the Leaning Tower. While I was in the Navy in 1971, a group of us went to Florence and Pisa, and climbed the Tower. Our ship had pulled into Livorno, so we were not that far. Could not pass up my first drink of Galliano while there. Since my walk is a little unsteady now, I do not think I could climb it again. As you said, I do remember that the edge was not that far away, and I kept very close to the tower itself. Being scared of heights did not help either. I always enjoy reading about your “journeys.” Keep them coming. Still, would love to get back to Italy, especially to the region where you are. I was really sorry to hear about the fires in the Lucca area. Devastating, I am sure.
imodicaAugust 5, 2022 at 2:51 am
Thank you Dave for a wonderful comment! It’s a shame we waited so long to do it, but so happy we finally did. I’m confident to say it hasn’t changed since 1971! Fires are under control now but still dangerous due to the extreme drought.
Kathryn OcchipintiAugust 4, 2022 at 8:12 pm
Nice blog! You’ve inspired me to FINALLY spend a day in Pisa and climb the tower!
imodicaAugust 5, 2022 at 2:51 am
It was indeed wonderful, Kathryn! Thanks for commenting!