So many people told us that Pisa was the ten minute wonder of the world. You hop out of the car, take a peek at that infamous leaning tower, and drive away, wondering why you took the time to get there.
Well I thought Pisa was definitely worth the effort. Yes, it is mostly a big tourist trap. Off to the side off the buildings, vendors line the walkway selling their tacky souvenirs. But if you can block them out, Pisa is quite lovely and that leaning tower does, in fact, lean quite impressively! And while the leaning tower is quite awe inspiring, the cathedral and baptistery right next to it are worth seeing as well.
Here is the view as you enter the Medieval part of the city.
I can’t believe how that tower leans! Apparently, it was a huge problem even during construction. They tried to compensate as they climbed higher, so there is a slight curve to the tower, yet nothing was going to compensate for the soft ground they started with. It is surprising that it has lasted so long!
Jake and I posing as tourists. Oh yeah. We are tourists.
No, here is the TRUE tourist pose. I made Matthew (my brother) do this. You can tell how excited he was by the look on his face.
Here is the cathedral.
Here is a shot of the inside.
Inside there are some true gems. Pisano carved the pulpit as his last effort while on this earth. It was carved right at the beginning of the 1300s. As I have studied his work I have really come to appreciate it. He was truly before his time. His work is realistic yet symbolic, and the figures practically jump out of the frames. All around the pulpit he details the life of Christ from infancy until judgment day. This is what the pulpit looks like:
I loved all of the panels, but this was one of my favorites. Look how Pisano is telling several aspects of the story at once. In this panel, you can see the infant Jesus’ presentation at the temple on the left, and then the flight into Egypt on the right.
This one depicts King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents. This panel is very moving and captures how truly horrific this event undoubtedly was.
Finally, here is a shot of the domed baptistery.
So, if you had to pick Florence, Rome, or Pisa, you should definitely pick Florence or Rome. But if you have some time, and you enjoy car trips through the Tuscan countryside, I would recommend you stop at Pisa for a few hours.