Pisa is a legendary city in central Italy known worldwide for the Leaning Tower. But it has a great deal of other sites than the legendary leaning tower. Pisa has historic churches, palaces and bridges across the Arno river that it straddles. It also offers some beautiful scenery along the Arno River. “Pisa” means mouth and it is believed that it got its name as it is located at the mouth of the Arno river. It was originally a very powerful maritime nation.

Our Trip

From Rome , we drove to Pisa.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

This famous leaning tower is actually a campanile or bell tower of the Pisa Cathedral located adjacent to it in the Cathedral Square or Piazza del Duomo along with the Baptistery.

The Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The architecture of the tower is beautiful with the six rows of stone arches and one can climb on top to get great views of the city.

The tower began to lean in the 12th century due to the soft ground which could not support the structure’s weight. It worsened through the completion of construction in the 14th century. However, this same soft soil helped it survive four strong earthquakes!

By 1990, the tilt had reached 5.5 degrees. Restoration work has reduced it to 3.97 degrees. Restoration work has also been undertaken to undo the corrosion and blackening due to exposure to wind and rain.

The average height of the tower is 56 metres and has 296 steps.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The entrance to the tower

The pillars

The winding stairway

Pisa Cathedral

The other important structure at the Cathedral square is the Pisa Cathedral. The real name of the Cathedral is Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It very often gets over shadowed by its own bell tower which is the Leaning tower of Pisa.

The exterior of the Cathedral is ornate with a series of stone and marble arches and bronze doors. The ceiling is done in gold and the interior of the dome has a beautiful fresco .

The Pisa Cathedral

The beautiful arches

The entrance to the cathedral

The beautiful frescoes inside

The Baptistery

The other structure in the Cathedra Square, the Baptistery was also built along with the leaning tower and has a great exterior design with statues, arches and decoration. The dome is half covered with orange tiles and the other half remains bare. It has never been completed.

The Baptistery

Campo Santo ( holy field)

Located at the edge of the Cathedral square is this monumental cemetery said to have been built around sacred soil where bodies rot in just 24 hours. This structure stands where the original Cathedral once stood. It has a large courtyard bordered with artistic arches and inner walls are decorated with frescoes and sculptures.

Campo Santo

The artistic arches

Sculptures inside

We had a short visit to the Cathedral Square in Pisa and headed to Milan.

But there was something interesting which we visited at Italy which has still not found a place in my blog. So , let me add that here. It might interest the car enthusiasts among my readers.

The Ferrari Museum

Located at Maranello, this is a Ferrari company museum dedicated to its sports cars. It has various race cars exhibited besides trophies and photographs related to car racing. Technological innovations in the field are also show cased here.

Some pictures :

Entrance to Museo Ferrari

Some displayed models

The Ferrari factory

With this, we move on to Milan, our final destination in Europe. See you next week at Milan. Till then do subscribe, comment and give your feedback.


Florence is a city in Central Italy bathed in architectural and artistic charm and depicts a slice of history at every nook and corner. Often called the birthplace of Renaissance, Florence offers a journey of enlightenment and is an art lover’s paradise.

It was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It has had a turbulent political history and been a witness to many religious uprisings and revolutions. This short preamble would have given you an idea of a city with numerous museums, art galleries and sculptures of some of the world’s most famous artists.

The layout and structure of Florence dates back to the Roman era. The architecture reflects the Renaissance period very strongly but has medieval, baroque and neoclassical elements.

The most popular site in Florence is the Piazza del Duomo or the historic central square. The domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore also called the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Campanile and the Museo del Opera del Duomo are all located here.

The historic central square Piazza del Duomo

The Duomo Complex

The domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is also called the Duomo and is the most famous of the buildings at the Duomo Complex .The multicoloured and imposing cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in Italy. .

The construction of this cathedral started in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The current extravagant marble exterior was built only in the 19th century.

The building of this dome by Brunelleschi is considered one of the Renaissance’s main building enterprises. The dome is egg shaped and was the largest dome in the world and till date remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. 436 steps takes one to the top of the dome from where the panoramic views of the city are amazing.

Main entrance to the cathedral

The external side of cathedral…note the intricate designs in different coloured marble

The iconic dome of the cathedral

The mosaic work on the interior of the dome

The Campanile or Bell Tower next to the Duomo is 82 metres high , built in different colours of marble and one can climb up to the top.

The Campanile or Bell Tower….note the intricated coloured marble designs

The Baptistery was built even before the construction of the Duomo. It is a octagonal structure. The Baptistery has 3 sets of bronze sculpted and gold plated doors. The most famous is the “Gates of Paradise”. The original doors are now in the museum but their copies can be seen here. The mosaic work on the inside of the Baptistery dome is also very beautiful.

The Baptistery (the campanile and duomo can be seen at the back)

The gold plated “Gates of Paradise”

Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace)

This is the old palace building which overlooks the Piazza Della Signoria, (Political Square) another famous square with Renaissance statues exhibited.

In front of the old palace is a copy of Michael Angelo’s sculpture…David

The old Palace (town hall)

Michael Angelo’s sculpture…David

Loggia de Lanzi

This is essentially an open air sculpture gallery of Renaissance art including the Medici Lions. It has wide arches open to the street resting on columns.

The open air sculpture gallery with Renaissance sculptures exhibited

Perseus with the head of Medusa

The Fountain of Neptune

This is another example of Renaissance sculpture in the Political Square.

Near the Fountain of Neptune

The Old Bridge

Another structure is the Old Bridge over the Arno River. The segmental arch bridge is peculiar in that there were shops built on the bridge which was common practice in that era.

The Old Bridge

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is an art museum located adjacent to the political square. It holds priceless collections of art work of the Renaissance period. The narrow street between the wings of the gallery is home to a large number of local artists who have displayed their art.

The Uffizi Gallery with the narrow street between the two wings lined by street artists

Talking of street artists, most of the streets of Florence have artists drawing pictures and displaying their art works. A true testimony to their ancestry….perhaps keeping their tradition alive. One can get one’s caricature drawn from them.

Street artists ….a boy waiting patiently as the artist makes his caricature

By the time it was evening, all of us had had a nice fill of art, architecture and history. In fact I found myself trying to recollect some of my school history lessons!!

Returning to the hotel with these thoughts, we were in for some more history the next day……Rome was our next destination.

See you next week at Rome.

Till then keep your comments flowing in, and do give your feedback.