Travelling back to Siena from England generally involved two things: one was seeing the rippled sea and toy town coast after a glorious view of The Alps from my plane window; the other was arriving at neatly organized Pisa airport.
This would often lead to a potter round Pisa and a meander to the leaning tower.
The tower has always fascinated me, though perhaps for the wrong reasons.
Firstly, it amazes me how every tourist has their photo taken as if propping the beast up, whilst giving the impression it’s their own idea (probably including me!)
Secondly, how anyone would happily climb the lofty article, given not only the angle, but also its slippery polished marble, beats me.
Thus, when fellow students Dom and Elenia decided to climb the thing, I watched aghast whilst quickly running through all First Aid moves I could recall (just in case the pair came cascading down onto some hapless tourist in prone position with camera.)
To my horror, Dom delighted in dangling from one of the lower tiers shouting ‘halloo!’ and this was immediately captured for posterity by an enthusiastic snapper, who probably looks back at his photo album wondering why.
When Dom and Elenia descended intact, I was so relieved I needed an immediate cappuccino to revive before embarking on my train journey back to Siena.
My other problem with the tower is why does it lean so?
It was in fact partly encased in scaffolding when I was there, in an effort to rectify said bent.
In sommario, the leaning tower of Pisa bothers me as it stands at odds with the perfectly balanced Duomo and ‘Campo dei Miracoli’ buildings beside it.
The train to Siena was invariably packed as heading ultimately to Rome.
I remember, on one occasion, being wedged into my seat by a large Italian grandmother replete with plethora of luggage containing feasts for the many bambini in her charge.
Trying to disembark at Siena station required an assertive charge through all and sundry at an angle not dissimilar to said leaning tower.
Siena station never looked so good.