Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
by Sammy Lagios
Kineta, Attica, Greece
August 24, 2010
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
June 2, 2010
From journal Versilia
February 9, 2006
When we finally found the cathedral site, what an impressive trio of buildings stood before us. They looked regally grand, set off against green lawns and the bluest of blue skies. What a treat!
The bell tower for the cathedral has, of course, received greater notoriety than the cathedral itself. Work started on this eight-tiered wedding-cake tower in 1173, but it was not completed for another 200 years. It is surprising that it was built to the original specification. Early mythology suggested that it had been designed to be on the incline—that it would have been an amazing feat but has been thoroughly discounted—but despite numerous corrective techniques, the early builders were unable to bring it back to the vertical. The reality is that you, like us, will stand and say, "How does it remain standing?"
I am also convinced that the other two architectural masterpieces on this site are also leaning at somewhat of a jaunty angle. Certainly don’t be totally distracted by the leaning tower because both the cathedral and the baptistery are well worth popping your head into. There’s also the cathedral museum and an art museum close at hand if you have the time and inclination. It’s certainly not difficult to be "cultured up" in Pisa, and the town itself is awash with architecturally fine houses, churches, and bridges.
Overall we were a little disappointed, although we should not have been surprised, at the amount of commercialism that has been allowed on the site. Tacky tourist shops seemed to dominate and there was no shortage of people wanting to sell you items or coerce you to partake in a guided tour of Pisa. We rapidly learnt to walk on, rather than enter into any conversation. Despite this, it is an amazing sight and must be counted as one of the world’s must-sees. Indeed since we visited Pisa, the tower has been opened again to visitors. There is a restriction on the number of people who can climb this historic monument (so prepare for long queues), but at less than €20, it should be worth the wait.
From journal Touring Tuscany
Riverview, New Brunswick
May 2, 2004
Except for the Duomo, the Leaning Tower and the museums attached to them, Pisa seems pretty pedestrian. There are other things to do, of course, but they are really overshadowed by the big site.
It was March and everything at the Duomo site closed by 5:30, so we considered all the ticket combinations, the likelihood of really getting involved in another painting and decided to opt for the Duomo and the Baptistry… a combination ticket costing 6 Euros. That’s not too ambitious when you consider that there are six venues on the site… we omitted the Composanto, the Leaning Tower (can see it, don’t need to climb it) and two museums. A while later, sitting in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II having a beer, it all made sense.
The Baptistry is as it suggests… a place for baptism. But it is large with an accessible upper gallery, has incredible acoustics, is 12th to 14th century and encompasses two architectural styles. It features an amazing marble pulpit and, of course, a huge font.
The Duomo is a breath-taker. Dedicated to St. Mary, its cream and green marble striping is typical of Tuscan churches. Begun in the 11th century, it has 5 naves… two side aisles on each side of a central nave. What you will notice… the blue and gold coffered ceilings which are found everywhere except in the apse and the dome in the center of the transept. Under the enormous picture of St. John on the ceiling of the chancel, you will find amazing marble-work. Absolutely marvelous. The transept contains two large chapels… visitors enter through one, the other is set aside for prayer.
Standing in the central nave, you will be struck by the height. The Corinthian columns before the side aisles support a substantial gallery above. The stained glass is in small Romanesque windows in the side walls of the aisles. In the nave, light pours in through small, clear windows over the gallery.
The side walls are also the home to huge works of art depicting various scenes from the Bible… this is a heavily decorated church showing little sign of its age. Well worth the time. Oh, by the way, about the time… I indicated that we were a little pressed… the two sites took remarkably little time… hence the retreat across town for a beer. Pisa is a sightseeing mecca – expect to be surrounded by crowds from all over the world.
From journal A Taste of Tuscany
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
March 23, 2002
A one-hour train ride delivers you to a modern station, the perfect place to commence a circuit walk around this fascinating city. There are maps available here for planning your route.
Must-do: Picnic in the Field of Miracles under the gaze of the Leaning Tower, discover the inventor of graffiti in Piazza dei Cavalieri, marvel at the tiny 13th century gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina and shop for bargains in the Borgo Stretto markets.
A Diary Extract…
The train journey takes about an hour through flat farming country. Campo dei Miracoli (The Field of Miracles) is just a little surreal. At one end, the famous Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower) of Pisa is fenced off; too far gone and deemed too dangerous to visit, although the government still persists with various schemes to avoid it tumbling into oblivion.
The latest attempt is on display and attracts as many curiosity seekers as the Tower itself. Blocks of cement ballast the rather alarming tilt, but the jury is still out. Fronting the campo are several stalls offering snow domes, gilded effigies and "I been to Pisa" T-shirts.
The giant bronze doors of the Baptistry are special, designed by artist Pisano in 1180, the Duomo amazing. All mind-bogglingly wonderful but how easy it is to get churched out in this country. People picnicked on the lawns enjoying the sunshine – "KEEP OFF THE LAWN" signs deter no one. We join them, paninis and strawberries never tasted so good.
The town is interesting, provincial, and we admire the nearby highly decorated facade of the Palazzo Cavalieri. The building is covered with black and white designs called s’graffito – a stunning effect achieved by etching wet plaster or clay.
This façade, contrasted by the brilliant sienna-coloured crumbling render of the surrounding piazza buildings, holds Karen spellbound and we break for a customary espresso and pastry while she sketches. We are served by Robin Williams – well, not actually him, but his spitting image. He’s not as crazy, but carries a maniacal grin, a hint that he may be distantly related.
More elegant facades patched and faded with shutters of green and pale blue line the streets as we cross the River Arno to visit the tiny church of Santa Maria della Spina. The markets of Borgo Stretto are winding down for the day but the atmosphere still swings, offers of bargains abound as vendors compete to clear their stalls. We buy some fruit and pastries for the journey home as Karen asks me the name of Robin Williams’ café.
"Idiot," I say. "I forgot to write it down."
"Not really," explains Karen. "Now we’ll have to come back!"
From journal TRAVELS IN TUSCANY - No Licence Required