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This review is for a tour of the tower and not about the tower itself.
Tower of Pisa tour
We were recently in Pisa and since it had been years since I had been up the tower, it was something I wanted to do again.
The last time I had been up the tower, people were allowed out on all levels and on the lower ( still high) levels there were no barriers. It came as a bit of a surprise that everything looked much more organised and there are now real safety measures in place.
Tickets have to be bought in an office opposite the tower, which is clearly signposted but unless people know where to buy them, it is still the natural reaction to go to the actual tower to ask to buy tickets.
When we were buying tickets we were offered various time slots, which run every half hour. Because time slots are allocated its best to buy tickets before taking photos of propping up the tower. We arrived at about 10.30am and got tickets for an hour later but some people had several hours wait before they able to join the tour. The advice here is go early to buy tickets and take photos propping up the tower once you have bought your tickets.
Once the allocated time comes along, people queue behind the barriers alongside the tower ready to go in. The timings are quite strictly adhered to and I think there are about 30 people on each tour so it never gets really congested. You have to leave bags in a locker so all you can take is a camera and some water- necessary if it is really hot.
We went inside the tower and into the central area where we were all invited to sit down on the bench which went all around the circular area. On the walls were information boards about the tower, written in Italian and English. The man conducting the tour then gave a brief history of the tower again in English and in Italian. This talk was interesting in that it had sufficient facts to be educational but we didn't get bogged down with too many facts so that it became information overload.
Once the talk was over we were invited to start the climb up the tower. I believe this to be 294 steps, but I could be wrong. Care must be taken when walking up the steps because being marble they have been worn over the years and as we'll as being rounded and very slippy the tower obviously tilts quite dramatically when inside and walking upwards. There are no hand rails and its quite a wise idea to do what lots of people did when coming down the tower, and take shoes off, particularly if wearing sandals without grips on the soles.
The views from the towers balcony do make the walk up worth it but again at the top be aware that it is very slippery. There are hi barriers all around the top of the tower so photos take in the metal but you can poke your camera through to get great photos.
The tour is quite expensive; I think for myself and little Miss we didn't get much if any change out of 40 euros but his does include entrance into the cathedral. The 30 minute time slot is very strictly adhered to and after about 20 minutes at the top visitors are asked to make their way down.
It is a worthwhile trip to take if in Pisa because the view at the top is amazing and it' good to actually climb to the top! Safety at the top is excellent but I do think there should be a handrail on the stairs since the are so slippy.
Recommended if in Pisa
Thanks for reading
Torre Pendente or The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the world's most famous sights, I've been there twice - once as a child and once more recently - I have to say, I seemed to remember it being at more of an angle the first time round! I can't claim to have climbed up it, as I didn't feel the queue or the entrance fee was worth it but despite the huge amount of tourists visiting it and the plethora of kitsch market stalls, I still think that it is a must place to visit.
The question on everyone's lips is how did it end up at such a dodgy angle... well the statue was flawed from the beginning as it was built on soft ground, noticeable by the time they got to the 3rd floor, fortunately the Pisans were at this time involved in battles against neighbouring Lucans, Florence and Saracens in Genoa and the construction was postponed for about 100 years which let the underlying soil toughen up, the remaining construction work was then completed by various engineers and in one case, one side of the building was made taller than the other in an attempt to balance it out but it ended up tilting the other way instead and giving it, it's curved effect!
Quite a masterpiece and an entertaining building, considering the history behind it. The surrounding area with the cathedral (Piazza del Duomo) is also very nice but obviously absolutely bustling with tourists, it is popular for people to have photos with themselves either pushing or leaning the building and 99% of people seem to be doing it - which I found all a bit stupid!
A freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, Italy.