I really wanted to like Pisa. When I last visited in 2004 I came away fond of the area around the leaning tower but unimpressed with pretty much everything else I saw of the city. It was grey and bland and unattractive. But I was hoping that I had been wrong. It had been overcast and rainy, and I had had to rush around the place. Perhaps I had just not done the place justice?

Pisa, Italy

This time, at least, I had the weather on my side, just not the traffic1. I ended up driving almost completely around the city, through some very narrow street clearly designed well before cars frequented them, before finally managing to get parked just inside the city walls.

Approaching the campanile from the east I remembered one of the things that I had disliked from my first visit: the streets nearby were filled with cheap trinkets and identical looking tourist trap cafes and restaurants. It’s the most “touristy” place I’ve ever been to in Italy.

However, once you get past the ornaments, aprons depicting Snoopy or Bart Simpson holding up the tower, the calendars and the books in six different languages, the site is impressive. The Duomo is amazing. I get a little annoyed that most people swept straight past it to see the Leaning Tower but that’s my problem.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

The gimmick of the tower is — at the risk of stating the obvious — that it leans2, which makes it easy to overlook the fact that even if it worked as it was designed it would still be worth visiting. The detailed maisonary is at least as good as that on the Duomo.

After a quick coffee I decided to return to the car and make for Lucca.

  1. Or my camera. The images you see here were taken on a Canon PowerShot A95. []
  2. Indeed, they’ve just finishing making sure that it continues to lean for the next few hundred years. []