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Leaning Tower of Pisa “Field of Miracles”

July 27th, 2007

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa park reminds me of a golf hole—a long, wide open double fairway sporting the usual hazards: a big tower stands like a drunken sailor over the tee box; souvenir tent bunkers swamp the entire left-hand side; a church with vaguely Eastern architectural features guards the green; romantic couples sit in packs, like gophers thumbing their noses at the greens-keeper, on the far-right bail-out zone. And just like at a golf course, you’re bound to see some strange swings at Tower Park.

Whatever your metaphor or the nomenclature used to describe it, Tower Park is a great chill-out and slow recreation park that has a lot of history, architecture, romance and fun in its broad views and otherwise intimate fields. The park is actually called Campo dei Miracoli, or “Field of Miracles.” On it are the famous tower, of whose hand in the design and construction is unknown, and also the Duomo (cathedral), Baptistery, and Camposanto (monument cemetery). The tower was supposed to be the bell tower to the complex in this square, which includes a church and a baptistery, and cemetery. The seven-story tower is about 180 feet (55 meters) tall, and leans a remarkable 14.5 feet (4.4 meters) off line. Construction began in 1173 and it began to lean after the fourth story was completed.

I don’t lie about the lovers hanging out the other side of the baptistery. The field is huge, with a little more nap to the grass than the lawn facing the tower. Maybe the whole Italian “amore” culture catches visitors at about the time they walk off the train and really gets them going when they see that big tower thrusting up, up, up into the parting clouds just as the sun breaks through like the light that pops in your head when … well, you can finish on your own.

leaning tower of pisa_2So you’ve come to town to see the tower. You see it, take pictures, even walk up its hundreds of stairs for a stunning view of Pisa and the Tuscan countryside. That may take you about an hour. Well, you can’t just leave now. Look around. This is The Place. You’re destination. The landscape architects knew how to build an inviting space. Take advantage of your good luck to be touring Italy, and Europe. The town can wait a bit. So too can the train back to Florence, a good base for Tuscan touring.

Here’s a suggestion: grab that bottle of wine you brought, sit on the grass or your picnic blanket, dish out a few breadsticks or cold pizza slices, and enjoy the park. The grass is warm in the sun, cool in the shade, and soft all over. Get more pictures…you and the family, your lover, the kids…with the tower behind you. This is why cameras were made pocketsize.

Family Activities at the Field of Miracles
Well, for starters, a walk up the tower’s winding staircase will fascinate kids for sheer spectacle value, because there’s nothing more memorable than having been inside a famous historical structure. Likewise, kids love a picnic, and after the crowded train ride into Pisa from Florence, the last thing they (and you!) will want to do is sit in a crowded restaurant. They’ll be able to tell their friends for years to come about the great Italian picnic they had on the soft grass beside the leaning tower of Pisa.

(read more about the Leaning Tower of Pisa highlights here

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