It is no coincidence that, in the distant 19th century, the name of Piazza dei Miracoli was chosen for this square of white splendor. Gabriele D’Annunzio, famous Italian writer and lover of the cult of aesthetics, succeeded in summarizing in this expression all the admiration and amazement that, for centuries now, raises this place.
A leaning tower in the middle of a miraculous square
Piazza dei Miracoli, which owes its name to the expression coined by D’Annunzio, is notoriously known for the famous Leaning Tower, named for its characteristic inclination that makes it unique all over the world. In fact, the square also houses other monuments that are worthy of attention: the Cathedral, whose tower is the bell tower, the Baptistery and the Camposanto, of which the splendid whiteness – which stands out against the green of the lawn – is the common denominator. Coming from the station of San Rossore – the nearest and convenient to visit Piazza dei MIracoli, from which it is only 10 minutes walk – you reach the city walls that delimits the historic center of the city of Pisa and, crossing the minute entrance, what we find ourselves in front of it is one of those Stendhal syndrome shows: situated at the edge of a much wider view, with the road running along the right side, the square looks immovable and majestic, literally leaving you speechless. The sight of who crosses it from via Santa Maria – after passing through the historic center of Pisa and the famous lungarni – is certainly not less effective: just before the end, the road opens up almost unexpectedly on this miraculous square , whose sight can not leave indifferent even those who are now accustomed to it.
The renovation works
What immediately attracts attention is without a doubt the leaning tower. More than 50 meters high, it owes its characteristic slope to a yielding of the ground already found at the time of construction, between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
The typical inclination, increased over the years, had reached such a level – 4.50 meters – that in 1990 it was decided to close it to the public for the concrete risk of collapse; therefore, the renovation and consolidation of the bell tower was begun, aimed at reducing its inclination and reinforcing its base which, according to experts, should guarantee its safety for at least three centuries. In 2001, therefore, the tower was reopened to the public, which can climb up to the top and look out from one of the many loggias that characterize it.
Today, however, the undisputed protagonist of the square appears even more vigorous and resplendent in the eyes of visitors … I studied in Pisa and, following the usual road that led me from the station to the Faculty of Languages in Via Santa Maria, I was almost used to at the sight of this beauty, although it has never been able to pass you by mere indifference. After the university, I was – alas – quite a bit of time without returning and, when a few years ago I happened, with great pleasure, to get back to the square, I was almost … dazzled! In fact, once the reconsolidation works were completed in 2001, the restoration of both internal and external marble material began, to clean it up for centuries of smog, rain, sun and … prying eyes!
Nine long years the restoration of the seven architectural orders and of the belfry that make up the bell tower lasted, works that were performed at night to allow tourists to visit the tower during the usual opening hours.
Detail of the Tower of Pisa
Climbing the tower can be a sporting activity, if you think that 293 steps separate you from the top! The characteristic loggias with arches and columns, surmounted by the belfry, are in fact crossed inside by a spiral staircase that, obviously, is not equipped with a lift!
If you can help, know that from the top of the tower Galileo Galilei conducted his experiments on the gravity of the bodies, throwing them to see if the speed of fall could be related to the weight of the bodies. There is also a plaque in memory of the famous Pisan scientist and his experiments.
And if it were not the only leaning tower of Pisa?
And, since we are on the subject of pearls of knowledge, I also say that the Leaning Tower is not the only leaning tower of Pisa !! There are even two others competing with it, even if it is not really a game on equal terms! You must know that the nature of the city’s land – mostly sandy and clayey – causes frequent (to say!) Inclination, although not as visible as that of the tower.
Going along Via Santa Maria to the end, you will find the Church of San Nicola near the Lungarni, with the adjacent bell tower with a slight inclination of a few degrees. Going towards the Lungarno to the east of Pisa, on Viale delle Piagge there is the Church of San Michele degli Scalzi, whose bell tower is inclined by about 5 degrees.
However, looking out from one of the windows of the Tower of Pisa is an indescribable emotion, both for the view that offers on the roofs of the old maritime republic, and for the feelings that follow one another in a whirlwind of thoughts and jolts … especially who suffers at least a little dizziness!
Opening hours and tickets
The tower is open all year round, with different times depending on the season (from April to September it is open until 20/21 with special night openings until 10 pm).
You can book guided and group tours – up to a maximum of 40 people. Children under the age of 8 can not enter for security reasons, while those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
There are no price changes according to age. By purchasing the tickets online you will have direct access to the tower, avoiding long queues. Online tickets can be purchased from 20 days up to 1 day before the date of the visit.
Credits: Discovery Tuscany