The Lean that Created the Miracle-Torre Pendente di Pisa
We spent the last day at the Osmannoro village in Florence under the province of Tuscany. The place was cool with its majestic ambience reminding one of the Italian Pasta and Italian Renaissance in the backdrop of the famous church Duomo making the place an enchanting paradise. Italy is well known for its pizzas, culture, magnificent structures like the Colosseum, and its supreme architecture; the best manifestation being the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The first pizza was made in Naples, the plain Cheese, Tomato and Basil, thereafter this has been a well-sought one almost everywhere in Italy where they promise the best Pizza is a vegetarian one.
The drive from Florence to Tuscany was a short one. The coach needed to be serviced in a nearby workshop, and we decided to board a local bus to ‘Campo dei Miracoli’. The bus was fairly crowded, but we reached the place within ten minutes and then we walked through the walkway to the Miracle Square. There were many small vendors and large shops. They provided cartwheeled vehicles for the sick and disabled. For the others, there were no vehicles allowed in the radiance. The day was hotter than ever. As we reached the Miracle Meadow we saw eight and a half acres of green grassed lawn with three majestic monuments resting in the sun-drenched airy settings.
We saw people holding their hands up from the boundary of the Miracle Square as if they were supporting the tilt of the Leaning Tower in their photographs.There were groups bending down and peering into the mobile phone in their hands, they were, in fact, clicking a selfie in a weird way. Later, we realised that this was the surest way to capture the Campanile and the whole monument. There were people and populace in multitude, yet there was no stampede or scramble to reach first. People admired the architecture, felt it and strolled in the meadow. It was called Piazza dei Miracoli or the Miracle square.
The square includes the Cathedral, the Monumental Cemetery, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Sinopie Museum. The leaning tower known as Torre Pendente di Pisa was constructed as a bell tower to accompany the cathedral in 1173 with intricate design and Italian architecture on a clay mixture which impacted the soil as it was not able to hold the tower strongly.
The bronze intricacies and design were initiated by Guglielmo and Bonanno Pisano. People say the architecture and design made it heavier than expected. As the tower began to strew downwards, the construction was suspended for a hundred years, hoping that the soil would settle down. Giovanni di Simone added four more floors in 1272 but was halted due to the battle of Meloria where Italians lost the battle. The bell tower was added in the year 1372 after the construction of the 7th floor in 1319. The leaning tower survived the Second World War and finally in the year 1987 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The history and the triumph of Italians in retaining the lean and the architecture create a great deal of enthusiasm in tourists while exploring the seven towers to reach the bell tower through the cathedral. Tourist can ascend the seven floors of uneven stairs through the cathedral and view the breathtaking beauty of the laid back Tuscany city paying a nominal charge of twenty Euros. Five flights of spiral stairs lead one to the Bell Tower. The lean and the narrow degenerating spiral stairs can make one dizzy, but the view of the Bell Tower or the Campanile, and the stretch of the city with its tapering red rooftops and greenery makes the twenty minutes climb historic.The architecture, the design, style, the building material and techniques are pompous, the cold stones create warm hearts in the tourists.
When we walked out of the Miracle Square we were ushered to the shops owned by Indians. We were warned from buying the cheapest Rolex watches sold by the blacks and anything else by people other than Indians. We were told that while making such purchases on the walkway the vendors have the tendency to snatch one’s belongings. We held on to our bags tightly owing to the passport we carried. The fastidious Indian shop owner as suggested waited for us to explore and make purchases. The shop was situated in a crowded place with an Indian restaurant on the other half of the store. The restaurant attracted us with its wafting aroma of Samosa, Wada and the brewing Masala Chai (Tea). The shops sold Italian leather bags, coats, umbrellas and handicrafts. The replica of the tower, and souvenirs were sold everywhere. We found the price of the leather jackets and bags a little more due to our knowledge of E-Commerce. We began haggling and the store owner left us contented with a midway deal with the same feelings as any other Indian on the Badi Chowdi lane in Hyderabad or the Lakshmi Road in Pune.
The desire to buy more dragged us to the walkway where we found our friends buying clutch purses, bags, Souvenirs from a black, there were others who were selling Rolex watches which were quoted for a price as low as 25 Euros. At Lucerne, we had seen the most expensive Rolex watches at the Bucherer store. The vendor spoke in English and kept asking us,’ what’s your price, please say it, Ma’am”. A few said the price they were willing to pay was one-quarter of what the vendor said. The vendor smiled and said, “Not so low ma’am, say another price”. Our Indian friends left no opportunity to bargain it for 10 Euros, and when the vendor finally gave way they felt it was too cheap to get a Rolex and cancelled the deal. Huge umbrellas were bought for 2 Euros; we were worried about the mounting heaviness of our luggage too. At Eiffel Tower, we bought tiny Eiffel Towers, at Rhine and Switzerland it was Rhine Waterfall and Mount Titlis and Swiss farms, here it was tiny Leaning Towers.
There were vendors who sold beautiful paintings of the Miracle Meadows. There were friends who bought it for the family and friends. As we strolled ahead we saw bags and other articles similar to what we had bought at the Indian store. We bought a few more gifts from the shop which was run by an Italian couple. Out of curiosity, we asked the couple the price of the bags. She showed us the printed label on the bag, which said ‘Made in Italy’ and the price quoted was way lower than what we had purchased. When we examined the label of our purchases from the Indian store we found the label, ‘Made in China’. We walked back hurriedly as we had to reach Milan that evening. As we waited for the bus we saw the blacks moving around with souvenirs and bags. They kept asking us ‘say your price’, we smiled and said we had made our purchases at the Indian shop. He shook his head vehemently perhaps to signify what we had mislaid……..