So it’s time to go up the famous Leaning Tower. Before I started researching logistics for this vacation, I wasn’t aware of the purpose of the tower (I probably should have picked up that tidbit of information years ago!). The structure is actually a bell tower – which in retrospect seems obvious I guess!
Access to the tower is via scheduled tour times. At the slated time you’ll be admitted into the bottom of the tower and sit for a few minutes while a guide talks about the tower’s history in Italian and English (at least those were the languages used when we went). After that, everyone is released to walk to the top on their own.
Inside you can see the weights and cables for the bells on top and the sense of “leaning” is immediately obvious. For this reason our daughter, who was suffering from a migraine that morning, bowed out of the tour as the disorientation was too much.
The tower is double-walled with the stairs being housed in between the two walls. Walking up, you will tend to move to one side or the other depending on which side of the “lean” you are on at the moment. In fact the wear marks on the stone steps show that millions of visitors have done the same thing over the centuries. There are a few spots where you may be able to stop and take a breather and let others pass. The openings along the outer wall are all closed off with metal bars so you don’t have to worry about little kids falling out on the way up and down.
Once at the very top level, you can check out the large bells. I was surprised and impressed at the ornate nature of the stone work around the edges and columns at the top. Overall the Leaning Tower is prettier up close than I expected and is more than just a novelty.