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Pisa, Italy – Home of the Famous Leaning Tower of Pisa

16.12.2010

Pisa is situated on the banks of the river Arno, in the North-West Tuscany region of Italy — about 80 km from Florence and 10 km from the sea. Pisa is one of Italy’s most popular tourist centres. This town is closely associated with the well-known Leaning Tower.

History

Pisa was never much more than a modest fishing village before the growth of the Roman Republic. With the Portus Pisanus — the Pisan port — serving as a vital naval base for the Romans during the Gallic wars, as well as during other colonizing ventures across the Spanish coast, the city grew in importance and strength as an official ally of Rome. By the time of the Empire, begun under Caesar Augustus in the lsl century A.D., the city was a thriving colonia, renowned for its skilled tradesmen and shipbuilders.

Unfortunately, the 13th century would go on to see the city’s power decline dramatically; this occurred because of continued internal fighting among the Italian city-states — most particularly the damaging wars against the Guelph cities of Tuscany, led by Florence. In the 16th century A.D., however, during the reign of the Medici, the city regained some peace and prestige as it flowered in a cultural renaissance. Galileo Galilei, the great astronomer, was born in Pisa in 1564 and attended the city’s university for some years. Throughout the following century, the university grew in strength and importance, various civil offices were instituted, and many important public works were constructed, including the Aqueduct of Asciano (1601) and the Canal of Navicelli (1603.)

Medici rule over Pisa ended when the Lorraine Government, by means of the Treaty of Vienna, secured sovereignty for the city under the Granduchy of Tuscany in 1738 A.D. Pisa would eventually become officially incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy by approximately 1860.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The famous “leaning” tower of Pisa was begun in 1173, as inscribed on a plaque carved at the entrance of this most unusual structure. Situated in the Piazza dei Miracolo, it stands alongside the accompanying Cathedral, Bapistry and Monumental Cemetery.

The building of the tower began straight off with some constructive discrepancies, most particularly the unsatisfactory depth of the foundations, which go down just three metres into dry stony earth. Work on the tower was halted after the construction of only three floors due to these foundational problems, which were already causing the tower to lean. Throughout the tower’s history, construction continued to be halted periodically, primarily due to political disruptions and wars with the city of Florence, among others. In 1275, over a century after it was first begun, three more floors were added to the tower. Another six were built in 1284.

Although the final lean cumulated at 14 feet out of line, the long delays during the tower’s construction actually facilitated its stabilization, as it was able to settle more firmly into the ground gradually with each era of construction. And the tower remains standing today, its unusual lean making it one of the most famous of Italy’s many architectural wonders.

  • Admission to the tower costs approximately 15 euros (extra for additional attractions).
  • One hour train ride from Florence.
  • The climb is not too strenuous and rewards the hiker with a beautiful view of the city!

(It is recommended to get to the Tower early, and visit it first before moving on to other buildings in the Piazza).

Other Attractions

Although Pisa is best known for the world famous Leaning Tower, it is not the only thing worth seeing here. Other architectural and artistic marvels of this beautiful city include: Piazza del Duomo — the square is known as the Campo dei Mira-coli — the Field of Miracles. The famous tower and the imposing cathedral are located here.

Duomo di Pisa — the city’s splendid Cathedral contains artwork by Giambolna, Dela Robbia, and other famous Italian painters.

Baptistry — a circular building with a large round Romanesque dome located near the cathedral and leaning tower, with excellent acoustics. It houses sculptured decorations and provides a fine view of the city at the top. Campo Santo — a very large cemetery building with a collection of ancient Roman sculptures and pre-Renaissance paintings by the “Master of the Triumph of Death”.

Airport Connections

Pisa International Airport (Galileo Galilei) has domestic and international air links with several European cities including direct air links with Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, London Gatwick, Madrid, Frankfurt Hahn, Munich and Paris Charles De Gaulle.

Vocabulary

  • capital — столица
  • to sop up — впитывать
  • glut — переизбыток
  • uniquely — уникальный
  • amazingly — поразительно, изумительно, замечательно
  • ethereal — эфирный, утонченный
  • back door — запасной выход, потайная дверь
  • undiscovered — ненайденный неоткрытый
  • off the beaten track — далеко от избитых путей, маршрутов
  • monastic — монашеский, монастырский
  • hermit — отшельник
  • to seek (sought) -— искать
  • solitude — одиночество, уединение
  • rift — трещина, просвет
  • pinnacle — вершина
  • valley — долина
  • Byzantine Empire — византийская империя
  • seam — шов, слой
  • peninsula — полуостров
  • pirate raids — набеги пиратов
  • persecution — преследование
  • encounter — встреча
  • to avoid — избежать
  • to settle — поселиться
  • endowment — пожертвование
  • community — община
  • monastery — монастырь
  • to hoist — поднимать
  • net — сеть
  • cliff— скала, утес
  • waste — отходы
  • paved — вымощенный
  • to wind — извиваться
  • spectacular — впечатляющий
  • vista — вид
  • bend — поворот
  • film — пленка (фотоаппарата)
  • suspended -— подвешенный
  • reasonably — разумно, довольно
  • fit — в форме
  • woodcarver = carver — резчик (по дереву)
  • carving — резное изделие
  • fall — осень
  • remote — далекий, удаленный
  • downright — совершенно
  • freezing — очень холодно, ледяной
  • to taste — пробовать
  • hearty — здоровый (о пище), сытный
  • stew — тушеное мясо, соус
  • to embark — отправляться
  • guy — парень
  • walled city — город, окруженный стеной
  • country — графство
  • by golly — о, боже!
  • worth — стоит
  • except for — кроме
  • castle = chateau — замок
  • to perch — сидеть, усесться
  • hilltop — вершина холма
  • mystery — тайна
  • sparkling wine — игристое вино
  • trail — дорожка, тропинка, след
  • wallet — кошелек, бумажник
  • lodging — жилье
  • plentiful — обильный
  • Province — Прованс (область во Франции)
  • to ignore — игнорировать
  • rightfully — по праву, законно
  • Sistine Chapel — Сикстинская капелла
  • range — ряд, выбор, диапазон
  • rural — сельский
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