Bucket List No 2 – See a Modern Wonder of the World

22 Aug
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

There’s hundreds of different lists of the Modern Wonders of the World but this one pops up quite a lot, so I’m counting it.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of those places I’ve seen so many times, that when I saw it in person, it didn’t look real. The same thing happened when I saw New York’s Grand Central Station. It didn’t happen with the Eiffel Tower (sorry to any offended French people – it looks lovely at night though…).

Obligatory "pushing the Tower" shot

My “pushing the Tower” shot

I’d really recommend a trip to Pisa. It’s small, so if you hustle you can see it all in a day. The nearest beach is only 20 minutes away by bus and if you have a car you could zip around the stunning Tuscan coastline and countryside. And the food…I could have eaten their pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner (which I usually did).

First day at the beach

First birthday, first day at the beach!

There are plenty of self-catering villas in the more rural areas but if you want somewhere central, try the Royal Victoria Hotel. It’s a grand old hotel with loads of character and really friendly staff. It’s definitely worth paying more for a bigger room with a river view as the smaller rooms are pretty poky.

Back to the Tower. Built over 800 years ago, it was supposed to be a regular bell tower for the town’s cathedral but during its construction the Italians realised it was leaning over. The foundation wasn’t deep enough and the ground it was built on was too soft. They tried stopping construction to see if it would settle which it didn’t. Then they tried making the left side of the upper floors longer to even if out but that didn’t work either. Mussolini, affronted by the imperfect tilt, poured concrete into the foundations but that didn’t help either. It was only in 1990 after years of working out a solution that the tower was pulled back slightly and stabilised to prevent further tilting .

Piazza del Miracoli

Piazza del Miracoli

You can climb the 296 stairs to the top for 15 Euros. With a young baby and a buggy, we didn’t do this – we ate pizza instead. And it’s not just the Tower to visit. The surrounding buildings, including the Cathedral, are just as impressive. The Square is aptly called Piazza del Miracoli (Square of Miracles) and standing there, you couldn’t be anywhere but in Europe. There is so much history in this small square of Pisa.

With any luck and barring any local earthquakes, the Tower should be standing for a few hundred years yet, so you’ve got plenty of time to get over there.

Royal Victoria Hotel – http://www.royalvictoria.it/

Ryanair Flights to Pisa – £300 for 2 adults & 1 infant

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