The leaning Tower of Pisa

Tower of PisaPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Tower of Pisa
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Of course, if you travel to Pisa you’ll enjoy its famous leading tower. This emblematic monument of Pisa is the bell tower of the cathedral located in Piazza dei Miracoli. The construction pf the ground floor with a arcade with classical Corynthian columns began on August 14, 1173. After the third floor was built in 1178, the tower leaned due to its weak bases (only three meters deep!) and the unstable ground. Then, the construction was stopped. Giovanni di Simone restarted the construction in 1272 and the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other trying to compensate the inclination. Finally, the tower was finished in 1372 by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano.

Portrait of Vincenzo Viviani (c. 1690)
Domenico Tempesti (1652-1718)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Vincenzo Viviani  (April 5, 1622 – September 22, 1703) who wrote one of the first biographies of Galileo Galilei, his master dropped two balls of different masses from the top of the tower in 1589. He wanted to demonstrate that their time of descent was independent of their mass. So he discovered that all the masses had the same acceleration when they fall down! So… Aristotle’s theory of gravity was absolutely false! Aristotle had said that all the objects fall at a proportional speed to their mass and Galilei’s experiment showed Aristotle’s mistake. Probably, Galileo Galilei didn’t do that experiment from the leaning tower and the legend written by Viviani is only a very good story but nowadays you can contemplate the leaning tower thinking that once Galileo Galilei was at its top refuting an Aristotle’s theory.

Location: Piazza dei Miracoli (map)


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