We have all made mistakes in our lives (I politely excuse myself from this category). One mistake was made back in 1173, when an architect began building an ivory bell tower in Pisa. It took him five years to build the first three floors (talk about taking your sweet time) when the tower started leaning. He didn’t realize just how dense the clay was in the area so he abandoned the tower, and it wasn’t after another hundred years that another architect decided to pick up where the last one had left off. When the 14,500 ton tower was finally finished, it became known as the most profitable mistake in history.
Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) includes the cathedral, the baptistry, a cemetery and the Torre Pendente Di Pisa…but its friends call it the Leaning Tower. Following in our tradition of climbing the tallest building a city possess, we bought our tickets for the tower. That was before we knew that there was no elevator inside. Unfortunately, the ticket was nonrefundable, so I was stuck with 295 steps ahead of me.
Dear ladies, a little note of advice for the future: If you are planning on climbin up a flight of almost 300 marble steps, leave your high heels at home. Otherwise, you end up looking like an idiot while you crawl up the last 100 steps of one of the most monumental towers in the world on your hands and knees. Sincerely, the girl who wore high heels.
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The steps were arranged in a spiral manner and when we got to the top, you had a picture-perfect view of all of Pisa. The majestic Apennine Mountains were to one side while the colorful houses and restaurants were on the other. You could definitely feel how dramatically the tower was leaning once you got to the top, but there are plenty of nets and workers there to ensure your safety. The sun was setting, the wind was blowing, I was on top of the world where no stress could find me and I had a view of one of the most beautiful cities. You have my full permission to be jealous.
Even though it’s very cliché, we decided that we had to do the pose where we attempt to strategically place our hands in order to give the allusion that we are “holding up the tower in place”. We failed miserably. When the pictures finally came out, we saw that everyone in the background was doing the exact same pose. The lack of creativity nowadays is just disappointing. We walked across the street with our legs shaking from the extensive aerobic exercise we endured and enjoyed some pizza in Pisa.
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We made our way to our hotel, which just so happened to be named Maksim Gorkiy. My parents got excited while my brother and I starred at them pretending like we came here without them. We got an earful of how they studied his writings in school and they were surprised that I hadn’t read him myself (because all I ever read is Russian literature from the late 1800’s). So, if anyone were to ask me where I stayed while I was in Pisa, I will smugly answer that I overnighted in the bed and breakfast named after the father of Soviet Revolutionary Literature.
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We went back out as it got dark and I had my usual 5 scoops of blackberry gelato as we sat on the grass in front of the leaning tower. She really is beautiful, especially for an 839 year old tower. She had no wrinkles or loose skin, but she was limping a little, which is still pretty impressive for her age. All she needs is a new team of chiropractors and she will be good as new. I don’t know why I think it’s a “she”. It’s just her emerald skin and curves make her seem like an elegant woman. In my mind, the Chichen Itza (been there) is obviously a “boy”, the Eiffel Tower (done that) is a “she” and the Christ Redeemer (still persuading my parents to visit this one) is a “he”.
As we were walking back to our bed and breakfast, we passed a selection of cafes, jam-packed with people. It was 2 in the morning, on a Thursday night, and all of Pisa was outside sipping their cappucinos. I don’t know whether it was just a late dinner, or an early breakfast, or if it was both with a little bit of clumsy dancing and loud singing in between, but the people didn’t look like they were going home anytime soon. So, I happily sat down and joined them, with no intention of going home either.
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