The secrets of the Leaning Tower of PisaDid you know that...
The secrets of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
If I say the word 'Pisa', what springs to mind? Let me guess ... the Tower of Pisa! Well, I’ll give you that: such a beautiful and highly leaning tower isn’t a common sight! As for me, I am not going to dwell on this, but on something more interesting, actually... an interesting fact for each one of its storeys.
- The bell of the Traitor. There are seven bells in the bell chamber, one for each musical note. The King of the Pentagram is played by the Bell of San Ranieri, known as the Bell of the Traitor because, centuries ago, it was rung in the city when somebody was executed for treachery.
- The Tower in cinema. There have been indeed many films in which the wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli has been featured, apparently at least forty. Among Italian films, the best known is 'Amici Miei' in which Ugo Tognazzi and his companions bring tourists to lean against the Leaning Tower to act as a counterweight, while among the foreign ones we mention 'Superman III' in which the superhero straightens the tower up causing great surprise amongst the souvenir sellers.
- The Tower and the War. In the summer of 1944, during the bombings of the Allies, the Tower seriously risked being torn down: the Allies were in fact supposedly intent on dropping a bomb on the monument, as they had done in Montecassino to destroy the Abbey. Luckily, once he flew over Piazza dei Miracoli, the pilot was blinded by the glare of the sun on the white marble that stopped him from taking aiming. This way the Tower was spared!
- The Tower and the Stars. Have you ever wondered why the bas-relief above the Tower entrance features an Aries image? Simply because, according to the ancient Pisa calendar, Aries is the city’s zodiac sign: precisely for this reason, the position of the monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli exactly mirrors this Constellation, with the Tower in the same position as one of the main stars.
- The Tower and Science. Towards the end of the fifteenth century, the great genius Galileo Galilei defied Aristotle's authority by establishing that, objects of different weight, fall at the same rate. Legend has it that the Pisa-hailed physicist carried out his experiments precisely on the Tower, dropping from the top spheres of different weight and discovered that they all hit the ground at exactly the same time.
- The Tower and the Colors. Of course, the glittering white of the marbles that cover the tower is a feature of great charm, but in recent years it has been possible to admire it even in colors thanks to night plays of light: blue in honor of the UN, pink for the fight against breast cancer and green in honor of Saint Patrick. But the most charming view is surely bestowed on the night of San Ranieri - June 16 - when the whole Tower glistens in the dark lit by hundreds of oil lamps.
- The paternity of the Tower. Bonanno Pisano, a well-known 12th century artist, and Diotisalvi, the architect from Pisa who built the Baptistery in Piazza dei Miracoli. Although these are the highest credited names for the paternity of the Tower of Pisa, the true identity of those who designed this masterpiece remains a mystery to be unveiled.
- The Tower and Measurements. Today we use meters, but at the time the Tower was built, things were different! Horizontal measurements were calculated in 'piedi' while vertical ones in 'braccia'. The columns of the loggia were taken as the unit of measurement for the entire artwork, with their height being equal to one 'pertica' or five 'braccia'. Interesting, don’t you think.
The city of Pisa is truly wonderful and its treasures undoubtedly deserve to be discovered. By taking part in our tour in Pisa, you can admire the beauties of this wonderful city accompanied by our experienced local guides. Don’t miss the historical center and the Leaning Tower: are you ready to be photographed while posing to be supporting it?
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