I guess they’re just having fun with me! Every time I mention going to Pisa, my friends always ask me if the tower is still leaning? And, yes of course it’s still leaning. However the Italians have done several things to try to keep it from falling over. But the campus and the beautiful grass at the leaning tower is quite phenomenal and makes for some great photo opportunities. It’s something that every tourist to Italy must see.
The amazing thing is everybody babbles about the tower. But the beautiful grounds also contain the massive Cathedral or Cattedrale di Pisa, which is also leaning. Nobody ever talks about that and I don’t know why. When you go through the entrance to the Cattedrale di Pisa you can see the chandelier hanging at an angle. But like the tower, the church is actually leaning and the massive hanging structure is perpendicular to the earth.
You can easily spend half a day at the leaning tower seeing all the sites, such as the Camposanto. The Camposanto is a beautiful open air cemetery for famous Pisans set around a cloistered quadrangle.
Along with over 1300s restored frescoes, you will find the resting places of famous men from of the Knights Templar and several Popes. "Campo Santo" can be literally translated as "holy field", because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Third Crusade.
Nearby is the the Battistero di San Giovanni. All who wished to be part of the church had to pass through this building first, for Baptism. This structure is actually older than the Cathedral itself, with construction beginning in the 1100s. The baptistry is constructed on the same unstable sand as the tower and cathedral, and leans 0.6 degrees toward the cathedral.
Of course most come to Pisa for the free-standing campanile, known as the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Leaning Tower is known for its nearly four-degree lean in unstable sandy foundation. With a height of 183 feet 3 inches on the low side (185 ft 11 in on the high) the tower has about 294 or 296 steps depending on how you count them.
Evidently, the tower began to lean during construction back in the 12th century. By 1990, the tilt had reached 5.5 degrees but was stabilized between 1993 and 2001, which brought the tilt back to about 4 degrees. If you decide to climb, be forewarned as the tower has narrow passage ways, the marble stairs are severely warn, and some are steep and others have virtually no climb. For those tourist who run into a challenge, the tower has several defibrillators.
If you have the opportunity, try to visit during sunset or at night for a completely different feel and view. Parking is a bit of a trick. You'll have to park several blocks away to the north in a public parking lot, find and walk back through the city gates. If you take a train, you will have to walk about 25 minutes through the city from the train station. It's relatively safe, but it is a hike. There is also a bus line, linea 21, from the station to the tower.