Gravity is not an easy thing to defy. Many people want the immediate adrenaline rush of falling, but the feeling of fear fleeting was something Theresa Panagis said went unmatched. While touring Italy, Panagis and her family got to experience Italy in the faint swoop of only one week.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a sight that most eyes have seen via video or photograph, but many don’t know the history behind the lean. With her tour bus, Panagis and her family would experience something that seemed to defy much more than gravity when she looked at it in real life; she said, “it defied sense.”
The building of the Tower began in August 1173. However, as conflicts continued to remerge, the bell tower construction kept getting put on hold. As war debts and conflict elongated the formation of the building, it began to lean. It was first noticed when three of the Tower’s eight stories had been built. It soon came to attention that the interruptions these interruptions allowed the soil to compress. If construction went on uninterrupted, the Tower surely would’ve toppled over. After watching an informational video on their tour bus, both Panagis and her family thought they had absorbed all they could, but everything changed as they got closer.
While Panagis and her family made their way closer to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, tension built as soon as they got off the bus. After an open shuttle transferred Panagis and the other tourists towards the city, a lack of cars seemed to be driving around; Panagis said it was almost as if no cars were allowed.
As the group inched closer towards the fascination, stores filled with tourism trinkets lined the street up until the stores bluntly just stopped. As they continued to move towards the leaning Tower, their surroundings changed to small groups, each getting their perfect shot, preventing the Leaning Tower of Pisa from crumbling. Panagis, very dedicated to the experience, asked both her kids to pose for the Instagram-worthy shot, but they were already on their way to buy tickets to climb the Tower.
Tickets would get purchased either online or in-person; you would not have to buy these in advance. When buying tickets, they will ask you to select your desired time slot to avoid too much weight in the building at once; after all, it is leaning. If you are afraid of heights, confined spaces, or are physically limited, this experience might not be for you.
One thing that resonated with Panagis was the Tower also being accompanied by the Cathedral of Pisa. Something that usually gets cropped out of images when searching for The Leaning Tower of Pisa. She then remembered the videos she watched and recalled it was meant to be a church’s bell tower. Panagis also noted a skewed statue in front of where her kids went to purchase their tickets. After seeing figures in Rome and Florence, she thought it the perfect sculpture to go alongside the Leaning Tower.
With her son afraid of heights and her daughter willing to do nearly anything for an experience to make her feel excited, the two were a perfect duo to conquer the Tower. As the two kids waited in line for their time in the Tower, their adrenaline built up so fast that their stomachs had flipped by the time it was their turn. As the two climbed higher and higher, their adrenaline seemed to have fleeted.
As the two climbed up the Tower, with 251 steps to the top, they would take breaks in the small confines of the staircase, welcoming every window with sighs of relief. With each window, the pair would take a second to catch their breath. However, when they finally reached the top of the Tower, Panagis described it as “almost anti-climatic” but defended the Tower by saying “the view at the top was breathtaking.”
To conclude, Panagis said The Leaning Tower of Pisa was nothing but what she called a ‘one-time-view.’ She elaborated on her comment, saying it was something she would only want to see once, claiming that the overwhelming crowds and shops took a lot away from her experience. “I wasn’t experiencing the beauty in Italian culture. It was tourist culture.”
The Leaning Tower is continuing to lean more and more each year. Architects from far and wide attempt to figure out a way to stop the leaning, but none have succeeded yet. After closing due to Coivid, the sigh reopened in February of 2022. However, face masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer are being strictly enforced.
Panagis recalled the difference in her kids from before climbing the Tower to after, “the feeling of accomplishment and pride that they felt was anything but fleeting.” After the kids worked up their appetites, the group went to one of the many pizza places in Pisa and enjoyed personal pies before boarding the shuttle to go bazck on the bus to experience more of what Italy had to offer.