You can go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
For much of the 1990s I didn’t realise you can actually go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Because previously you couldn’t go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa! It’s only now after a recent trip there that I realise it was just closed between 1990 and 2001 for maintenance work in an attempt to reduce its lean. At the time this was 5.5°. Now, 14 years after the works’ completion the lean is a far less “leany” 3.97°. Since December 2001 tourists have once again been able to climb up it. And you can climb up it too!
Getting to Pisa and buying the tickets
We visited Pisa’s Piazza del Miracoli in May while enroute to drive Fiat 500s in Florence. We wanted to tackle Pisa’s tower, check out the Cathedral, and behold the beautiful Bapistry. Many friends had advised us to only spend half a day in Pisa and not stay overnight there. However due to our flight times from Luton it was easier to stay for 24 hours; the late afternoon on arrival to have a “wander around” amongst all the day-trippers, the evening to have a nice meal and savour the tower in relative peace and quiet, and then the following morning to actually climb up it.
We bought our tower tickets for €18 each from the official site at http://www.opapisa.it/en/tickets/buy/ which releases them 20 days in advance. This gave us a far better time selection throughout the day compared to sites like http://www.towerofpisa.org/tickets/ who additionally add on a cheeky €10 booking fee! Our €18 choice included entry to the Cathedral too.
Getting ready to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
So having photographed countless tourists pushing the tower upright, holding it up between their fingers, karate kicking it and pretending it was an ice cream cone we headed the 100m from our hotel (Hotel Kinzica) to the tower. With pre-bought tickets in hand we waited in the welcome shade of the tower’s shadow 15 minutes before our time slot of 11am. Handbags/bags/luggage/bumbags aren’t allowed up and must be left in the cloakroom (which is free) so we patiently waited our turn to enter with just cameras hanging around our necks, before having a routine hand-held metal detector check. Up close you notice how incredibly clean the tower’s smooth marble is along with the jaunty angle of the door as you walk through it.
Entering the Leaning Tower of Pisa
The entrance room has some pictures and vertical metal stands to show you what “straight” looks like. A few of the devices we couldn’t work out immediately so we headed speedily for the staircase instead. There are 8 stories in total but you’re not allowed to walk out onto any of them apart from the very top level. So it’s a straight 55 metres slog to the top. It was a hot day when we visited so it was a relief to eventually exit the narrow staircase and arrive up on the top level.
Millions of pairs of feet have been up here
As you climb up be sure to check out the worn white marble steps. They must have had millions of feet walk over them to erode them since its construction begun back in 1173. Once at the top I was surprised to see a round open roof rather than a flat domed one. I didn’t even realise they had 7 bells at the top (one for each note of the musical major scale). One of which scared the living skylights out of an Indian family posing right next to it as it struck 12.
How long does it take from start to finish?
A round trip might take about 40 minutes but there’s no one ushering you down. Within reason you can stay up there as long as you like. We took some photos of the Cathedral below on one side and our hotel on the other. We then sat on the south side which slopes forward sufficiently enough that you’re weary of placing anything on the steps in case it slides forwards and falls off. Also on the way down you also have that sensation of slipping down off the steps. This is because they angle down slightly due to the 4° tilt on that side of the tower.
A few rarer photos are of the base of the tower and its exposed open top half. Make sure you take photos of both while remembering to chill out 251 steps up in the air. Be grateful that the tower didn’t fall down at some point in the past. That the US army didn’t target it during WWII when they found out Germans were possibly using it as an observation post. Finally that it’s now open to the public once more. 🙂
Anybody else now want to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa? 🙂