Thursday, December 11, 2014


Reading Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa. I bought it several years ago in a second-hand book shop in Chiang Mai of all places but have only now got around to reading it. I'd probably never have bought it if it hadn't been for the whacky jacket design. Would have been nicer if the text inside had been similarly slanted but you can't have everything I suppose. Anyway, it got some strange looks from fellow passengers on the flight back from Guadalajara.
So, the facts: no-one knows who the architect was. Construction began 1173 but halted a few times until finally finished in 1370. Owing to dodgy soil, it leaned from day one. Galileo was purported to have conducted experiments on falling objects around 1590. By 1787 the tilt was 3.8m. Numerous commissions convened to investigate what could be done (around ten in the 20th Century alone), all failing until in 1990 it was closed for one last-ditch attempt. In 2001 it re-opened, still leaning of course (to have a perfectly upright campanile would have been almost as disastrous as it toppling over - think of the tourists), but now stabilised. I've never been.

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