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Still Leaning After All These Years

ITALY | Tuesday, 5 October 2021 | Views [109]

Still Leaning After All These Years

Still Leaning After All These Years

EVEN THE THUNDER, LIGHTENING AND RAIN drumming on the skylight didn’t keep us from a good sleep. After breakfast we walked to the Field of Miracles where the famous Tower of Pisa still leans. As any freshman engineering student could tell you, a heavy structure needs a good foundation!


              Maybe no one will notice

We were there by nine, hours before the tour buses arrived. It’s amazing how many photos you can take when you don’t have to worry about people pushing and shoving. 


                "Field of Miracles" — Baptistry, Cathedral, Leaning Tower


                  Nun on a Mission




                                                               "Fallen Angel" circa 2015

There are six major sites to visit in Pisa—the Leaning Tower, of course plus the Baptistry, Camposanto Cemetery, Cathedral (Duomo), Opera del Duomo Museum and the Sinopie Museum. Just climbing the tower will set you back €20—you can look all you want for free! Each of the other sites cost €7—the Cathedral is a freebee with any ticket.


                        Ticket for Two—only €20

A pass for everything for costs €27, including the Tower or do as we did and get the €10 “Completa” ticket. You get one visit to everything except the Leaning Tower—and who needs to pay €17 for the privilege of climbing 273 steps anyway?—and the ticket is valid for a year.  


                  Connie Examines the Days Offerings

The Cathedral wouldn’t be open until 10:00 so we began with the Sinopie Museum. What’s a sinopie? you ask. Sinopias are the original red paint drawings for a fresco done by the master. After assistants made a “cartoon” by tracing the sinopia on large sheets of paper the sinopia was plastered over. To put the drawing back on the wall, assistants perforated the cartoon and hung it back on the wet plaster. A bag of powdered charcoal was used like a powder-puff over the cartoon to put the drawing back on the wet plaster where the master would quickly fill in the details before the plaster dried.


                               Inside the Sinopie Museum


       Painting of Fresco                       Etching of Fresco                   Original Sinopie for Fresco

The sinopias in the museum all come from the Camposanto Cemetery. When WW2 bombs started a fire that melted the wax used to bond the frescos, only the sinopias remained, the only record of some of the frescos from Camposanto. Others, now destroyed, are known from paintings and etchings made by Carlo Lasinio in the early 19th Century—also displayed in the Museum. Although they were never meant to be seen, to my mind sinopias are an art form in their own right.


              Art in Its Own Right

We had time before the Cathedral opened to stop in at the at the Baptistry. Although the Baptistry is undergoing renovations, the baptismal font, presided over by John the Baptist, is still present unlike the Baptistry in Florence. 


                  Baptismal Font

A French tour group more or less pushed us into the Cathedral. While they sat in pews listening to their guide’s lecture, I dutifully followed Connie’s lead. After I finished gawping at the general glitz and splendor of the Cathedral, she pointed out the special places she had gleaned from Rick Steves’ sage advice. 


                   Awesome even to a Heathen

Places like Giovanni’s Pulpit and the “egg” where the sun’s rays strike on March 25, 10th Century Pisa’s New Year. And the vase that Christ used miraculously transformed water into wine, if you believe that stuff. There is also a replica of the lamp, whose oscillations supposedly gave Galileo the foundation for his equations on a swinging pendulum—the original lamp hangs in the Museum d’ell Opera.


    Pisano's Pulpit


                      Let the Sun Shine In, Marble Egg


                                          Would you prefer Water or Wine


  The Pit and the Pendulum

Yes, there is more to Pisa than the Leaning Tower. And this was only our first day!



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