La-Dolce-Vita (part III) – Of Torre and Carrara

The Gleaming Leaning Tower of Pisa enrobed in white Carrara marble stands inclined on the town that is about a 100 kms from Florence. The drive through the Italian state of Tuscany is just as described by Frances Mayes in her book Under the Tuscan Sun. The town is just short of being sleepy! With a more subtle ambience and quietly magnificient houses, Pisa has more than just the Leaning Tower. Though the tower is quite a wonder for the way it stands. Precarious, yes, doubtful, no.

The Tower was built in 1173 AD and is actually the bell-tower of the cathedral of the city of Pisa. It was never intended to lean! Soon after the commencement of the construction the soil began to give way. This caused the then 2-storeyed tower to sink, miraculously just about enough to prevent a collapse! The builders unfazed by the soil spell, stopped for a couple of decades before continuing to build the unfinished tower. The stopping of the construction is touted as the reason the tower didnt completely collapse as time is said to have allowed the half complete tower to settle into the soil conditions. The construction of the tower is said to have been halted on several other occasions during which Pisa was busy fighting wars. It was in the late 1300s that the tower saw final completion! In the 19th century several conservation and strengthening efforts were made on the tower. The conservationists did a good job I must say. Cause today the tower stands tall, is gleaming white and it bends over.

The corinthian capitals encircling the tower on every storey are striking features apart from the fact that it leans. With an accessible top of the tower, the view of old Pisa is reminiscent of the charming old town scenario. At about 55 meters tall the height of the tower does not tower over the Basilica and the Baptistry. The trio lie within a compounded area with an expanse of garden which is a different.

Carrara marble against the blue blue skies makes for a pretty picture. A kid or two is seen running into the sprinklers in the lawn for that much needed heat relief. The fact that the lawns are off-limits doesnt seem to matter. The atmosphere in Pisa is serene but around the Leaning tower its playful. People of Pisa are seen to have a healthy sense of humor as they not only tolerated but nutured the quirky tower. Demolishing the tower as it sunk during its 2nd storey of construction apparently never once crossed their mind. Rebuilding as per plan never crossed anyone’s mind. They went with the flow then and improvised a situation. Many generations ahead the easy-going nature of the Pisanos still holds good. Pisanos are true blooded Italianos!  Without freaking out on a freakily 3degree angled tower they gave themselves, not the tallest, not the costliest but the most quirkily cool tower in the world.

The calmness of a great place is felt here.

Numerous tourist kiosks line the compound that sell Italian leather, souveniers and lots more. Narrow lanes lead from the compound into the city of Pisa, the old town and the new. There is no dearth of food here too, a gelato is right around the corner and you can always expect a tranquil Pizza in Pisa. Less competitive than the Florentines, the Pisanos drive politely, smile incesantly and get along easily!

From the Miracle square in Pisa one is certain that the Lord smiles down on this cool little city in Italiano. As the Pisanos most conveniently believe in miracles.


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