On the last day of the vacation in Italy we decided to go to Pisa and Siena. Florence is very close to both cities, but because they are in different directions, it was much easier to go there by car rather than taking the train. The driver was me of course! Barış followed the track on the map, Jordanka read us some facts about the two cities from her book, and Nikola took a nap on the way.
The weather was amazingly hot that day. We definitely wouldn’t have survived without the car air conditioning! When we arrived in Pisa, we parked the car and walked to the area where the historical church is.
After walking near the channel by trying to pick the most hidden and shaded streets to escape the hot sun, we reached the target, and indeed, it was leaning!
The tower of Pisa started to be built in the 12th century, but after the builders got to the 3rd floor they stopped because it was leaning! Then, in the 14th century the tower was completed, however each year it continued to lean by 1 mm. In 1993, when it reached an approximately 5-degrees slope, they put 870 tons of counterweight on the opposite side of the tower. In addition, they removed tons of soil from the ground on the opposite side to balance it. This all worked out; the slope decreased and the tower returned to its 18th century position. Experts involved in this rescue work believe that this will keep the tower standing for at least another 300 more years.
These days it is possible to climb up to the top of the tower by 294 stairs. At one time only 40 people were allowed to climb for safety reasons. Baris, Nikola and Jordanka were not sure if it was safe, and I was dying because of the heat, so we left the climbing for another time within the next 300 years.
The tower is not the only leaning building in Pisa. In fact, the whole city was leaning a bit due to the soil type that the city was built on. For example, the baptistery also leans toward the cathedral by 0.6 degrees.
When we were happy with Pisa, we took off for the next stop. Siena is one of the most important and well-preserved medieval cities in Italy. The city is covered by walls that were completed in the 13th century. They were built to protect the city, determine the limits of the city and to prevent landslides. The city then grew more, but the central area is the part that is surrounded by these walls.
We left our car at a parking area outside and entered the center from those walls. We had to climb up to reach the city center. To help people with this, escalators were built on three different points around the walls. After the escalators we reached the magical streets of Siena.
Siena’s cathedral is one of the most important buildings. This cathedral was built between 1215-1263 with black and white colors in the time of Roman architecture.
Another important building is the Palazzo Pubblico, the 800-year-old town hall. This building is at the heart of Piazza del Campo, which is a symbol of Siena. Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s largest medieval squares. It has a very different architectural structure in the form of sea shells. From the ancient Roman era until this day a horse race called Palio di Siena is held on this square twice a year.
After completing the tour inside the walls of this medieval city we headed back to Florence. This was our last day in Italy. Even though it was only a week, we did so many fun things. There are many interesting places in Italy, and many different places on my ‘must see’ list, but I know that one day I will visit these cities again.