More than just the Tower…

May 16, 2013 / Places
Pisa, Tuscany
piazza-miracoli2The Leaning Tower is a sight to behold. When walking to the tower, there is a 1 in 1 chance that you and the person next to you will stop in your tracks and say, “Wow, that thing is seriously crooked.”

Imagine a conversation that the first architects might have had as they looked at the initial work done on the tower and began to notice it was sinking into the ground.

“Bonanno, ma secondo te, pende?” (Bonanno, do you think it’s leaning?)

“Ma no, Gherardo, che stai dicendo? Hai bevuto? Non pende… beh, aspetta, se la guardo di qua… forse si.” (No, Gherardo, what are you saying? Have you been drinking? It’s not leaning… well, hold on, if I look at it from here.. maybe a bit.)

piazza-miracoli4But tourists who just need to cross “Torre di Pisa” off their “must-see” list will actually get much more than they are expecting. Because the Tower is located in one of the most beautifully manicured and grand piazze in Italy: Piazza dei Miracoli. Home to the Torre di Pisa, the Duomo, and the Battistero.

Galileo is not only famous for dropping two balls of different masses from the Leaning Tower (which may or may not be true). His pendulum experiments were actually inspired by his observations of the swinging chandelier while he was attending (but undoubtedly not exactly listening to) mass at the Duomo.

So if you are planning on just driving through Pisa, make sure to add a few hours so that you can visit the Duomo and Battistero as well. Then sit on the grass, do some people-watching (the tourists who are looking for the best spot to take the “I’m holding up the Leaning Tower!” photos are an endless source of entertainment), and take it all in. You won’t regret it!




Enrica Frulla

by Enrica Frulla

Enrica was born in Italy, raised in the United States and is now living in Senigallia, on the coast of the beautiful Le Marche region. A marketing consultant in a past life, Enrica is now a freelance translator. Recently, her creativity and passion for telling people what to do has also  “translated” into an event planning business.

9 Responses to “More than just the Tower…”

  1. The famous ECO (echo) of the Battistero, due to the construction of the edifice and its cupola, was a source of wonder, amazement, and entertainment to the many groups of students I have led to Italy and Pisa. For a small mancia (back in the day —- likely 20+ Euro today!) an attendant would sing a few notes, making one voice sound like a choir of 20-30, and clap a few times, the sound multiplied many times. Have not experienced this in over 15 years so I wonder if the attendants can still be cajoled into doing it — WHEN, that is, the Battistero is open. The hours are typically Italian: erratic. The entire Duomo complex, and the Piazza dei Miracoli is NOT to be missed – in my view, a true modern Wonder of the World

    • nancy alexander

      To Russo, We visited there in 2001 and while that was not “yesterday” it was only 12 yrs ago. The attendant as you called him actually just took it upon himself to start singing , so we were treated to a couple minutes of a beautiful voice in a beautiful place ! And the views from the top of there towards the tower were amazing ! Glad we did not miss that .

  2. An often neglected piece of the Piazza dei Mircoli in Pisa is the Composanto. The long building along one side of the piazza to your right as you face the battistero. It is quite beautiful and has a fascinating history, being the burial place of early royalty.

    “Tragically, the extensive frescoes of the Camposanto were almost completely destroyed by a bombing raid during World War II. On July 27, 1944, American warplanes launched a major air attack against Pisa, which was still held by the Nazis. The wooden roof caught fire, its lead panels melted and the hot metal ran all over the frescoes. Many were completely destroyed and the few that remained were badly damaged.”

    “The Camposanto has since been fully restored and most of the surviving frescoes, along with preparatory sketches (sinopie) found underneath, have been moved to the Museo delle Sinopie in Pisa.” Regardless, there are still a few preserved frescoes on the walls as well as sarcophagi and ancient statues and very worthwhile to take time to visit there as well as the Duomo and Battistero…

  3. Tony Cogan

    Absolutely agree with this article – what a wonderful array of sites in such a small space! But also agree with Janet that the Camposanto is also a fantastic relic and not to be missed. When I visited Pisa, it came as both a surprise and a delight to’discover’ this relatively unknown attraction.

  4. Rita Mantone

    Loved Pisa. The drive to Pisa from Florence took around 30 minutes. The drive back, a couple of hours. We were hopelessly lost in Florence until our 10 year old daughter suggested one of us hoping in a cab and following along in our van.

  5. Joan Schmelzle

    While I have made the regular tourist visit to the Field of Miracles probably seven or eight times, maybe more, I treasure the time a few years ago when I decided to stay in Pisa overnight. I visited the Field sites, of course, when they were open though I didn’t climb the tower–blame advancing age. But wandering through the town to go back there at night when the tourist groups were gone, was so very enjoyable and, as I said, a treasured memory.

  6. YES…it seems as if the travel information sights do not do justice to the town of Pisa. A few years ago we were landing in Pisa a few days before our villa rental began and were looking forward to staying there. My 1st few Internet queries re. hotels were answered with suggestions to stay instead… Lucca. We know and love Lucca but wanted to stay in PISA! I persisted and found a lovely hotel centrally located where we stayed for 2 nights. Like Joan, we found that there a great deal more to Pisa than the Piazza dei Miracoli! Museums, wonderful garden which I believe is part of the university, excellent restaurants, fun shopping, etc.

  7. Rosemary

    I hate to add a negative comment to this lovely post but I have to admit to being very disappointed when visiting Pisa. The buildings themselves are incredibly beautiful and the Tower unique and fascinating but the flat lawn I found very disconcerting. No where else I’ve been in Italy is the main piazza separated so much from the city as it seemed to me in Pisa – as if it just dropped down from the sky. The gauntlet of ticky-tacky souvenir stands we had to pass – selling all sorts of junk – much not even related to the Tower or even to Italy – was really off-putting and, I felt inappropriate for this beautiful symbol of Italy. Based on all these positive comments I’m sure I did not explore the town as much as I should have but sorry to say I did not enjoy Pisa.

    • Doubtful that Rosemary will see this reply 2 years later but there is a reason the Field of Miracles is “disconnetted” to the center Of Pisa. Dose she think them built it is this manner to inconvenience tourists several hundred years later?
      Pisa, in ancient times had a series of small canals and a port not far from the field of Miracles. In the early Middle Ages the topography was quite different from what one finds today. A shame more people don’t go off the path in Pisa – it’s a lively city with a fascinating history.


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