Two major attractions today: half-day trip to Leaning Tower of Pisa and journey up to the highest point of Florence overlooking the city.
We booked a last-minute guided tour to Leaning Tower of Pisa because it was only slightly more expensive than if we had purchased bus tickets ourselves. The tour was really rushed, but it worked out well because we wanted to spend the afternoon at Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, which is the highest point of the city.
Pisa was an interesting trip – we spent our entire stay at Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), which held the Cathedral, Baptistry, Leaning Tower, and Cemetery. We spent some time in the Cathedral admiring the beautiful artwork and the crazy-huge pillars, each made from a single block of stone. But of course, pretty much everyone was there to see the Leaning Tower, which is what we did after our quick stint in the Cathedral.
The Leaning Tower was intended to be the campanile, or bell tower, of the church. The tilt is due to an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side. In fact, our guide told us that ALL the buildings in this square are tilted to varying degrees, with the Baptistry tilting the opposite way of the Cathedral and Tower. Thankfully, the Leaning Tower’s tilt has been slightly corrected and preserved, meaning it’ll stay in the same position for the next 200 years. Hopefully – but nothing’s set in stone (lame puns for the win).
After our mini-day trip, we spent the late afternoon and early evening at Piazza Michelangelo and Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, both located at the highest point of the city. After navigating the narrow city streets surrounded by tall buildings, it was literally a breath of fresh air to be enjoying the view high up and seeing where all the major historical landmarks of Florence were located around the city.
The basilica sat on the very top, and we spent some time inside, listening to a Gregorian chant and a priest reading during service. It was an ethereal feeling, further compounded by the amazing city view overlooking an old church cemetery just steps outside the basilica.
That experience left me speechless and made me realize just how lucky we were to be spending time in an ancient city. Looking at the church and realizing it’s been standing in the same spot for a millennia really made me feel small, and helped put a lot of things into perspective.
Hopefully I’ll get to experience much of the same during our four-day stay in Rome, starting tomorrow.
Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin!
Steps taken: 16,794 | Miles walked: 5.56
Thriller at randomtidbitsofthought.wordpress.com.