Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sketchbook Journeys - Italy: Day 15 (Pisa)

After seeing pictures of the Leaning Tower all my life and reading about it in guidebooks, I was expecting it to be nothing more than a gaudy tourist trap. Suzie and I felt obligated to see it. After all, we were in Pisa, and our hotel was only two blocks away from it. So in the early evening, after a long, hot afternoon of train and bus travel, we dragged ourselves from our room and set out to see "The Famous Leaning Tower of PISA!"

10" x 7", ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook

The sun was sinking low in the sky as we walked out into the cool evening air. When we rounded a corner and saw the tower before us, I was surprised at how beautiful the whole scene was. Long, slanting shadows fell across the spring green grass, and the white marble buildings glowed against a deep blue sky.

The tilting bell tower sits on a wide, grassy piazza next to an extraordinary cathedral with incredible mosaics and ornate sculpted bronze doors. Beyond the cathedral is the baptistery and off to one side sits the camposanto ("walled cemetery"), and cloister building. Medieval walls built in the twelfth century surround the grounds and set the piazza apart from the bustling city outside.

Oh, of course there were tourists - lots of people doing silly things, posing for pictures of themselves holding up (or pushing over) the tower. Everyone was happy, laughing, and having fun.

But amidst all that, there was a peacefulness and serenity to the place that I hadn't expected at all. I walked around for awhile, admiring the mosaics, the carvings, the architecture. It was absolutely beautiful. What a shame it would have been to miss all this!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you took the time to go see the tower, and to draw your impressions. Such a delightful page.


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