Tag Archives: Pisa

8 May 2018:
Livorno, Italy:
Gateway to Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re here in the city of Livorno, Italy’s second-largest port (after Genoa.)

I’ve been to Livorno many times and I always find it interesting, perhaps because almost all tourists have headed elsewhere, mostly to its famous inland neighbors: Pisa, Florence, Lucca, and Sienna among them.

Livorno, home to about 160,000 today, was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance, among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals.

LIVORNO

On this visit, we stayed in town and made a pilgrimage to an unusual church: very unassuming on the outside, with an unadorned exterior around its octagonal core. Within, something very different.

The church of Santa Catarina was completed in 1753 in the New Venice district. Its dome is 63 meters or 207 feet., higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The altar includes a painting by Giorgio Vasari.

FLORENCE

Florence is just under two hours northeast by car or train.

It is a place that is famous for the its amazing art and architecture, and it never fails to deliver on that promise.

At its center is the Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori, begun in 1296 and completed in 1436. It is topped by Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest, and for that reason it is known as Il Duomo, the dome.

PISA

Then there’s this city with the defective tower. (The Tiltin’ Hilton, as it was nicknamed by American G.I.s who were tasked with taking the city from German occupiers and somehow managed to do so without destroying the tower.)

Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500.

In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman king Roger I, liberated Palermo from the Saracen pirates.

The gold he took from the Saracens allowed the Pisans to start building a cathedral.

The Tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo).

Construction began in 1173.  Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast.

The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil.

Construction halted for almost a century.

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction. Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the chamber with seven bells added in 1372.

On January 7, 1990, after several heart-stopping sudden shifts, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to take some weight off the top, and cables were fastened around the third level and anchored several hundred yards away.

The tower was straightened slightly by removing soil beneath the raised end.

In May 2008, engineers removed even more earth from the high side of the tower, and they declared it had been stabilized to the point where it had stopped moving for the first time in its history.

Prior to the restoration, the tower leaned 5.5 degrees.

Today the tower tilts a mere 3.99 degrees southwest.

As corrected, the top of the tower is 12 feet, 10 inches (3.9 meters) from where it would be if the tower were perfectly vertical.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

2-3 Oct 2016
Livorno, Italy:
The Gateway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa. It’s a city of some interest itself, although most visitors hardly notice as they pass through to the inland.

From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze). Or join the throngs on a pilgrimage to one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. And there’s always beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

All such choices should be so rich.

Livorno was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance; it is among a small number of Italian towns that was actually planned.

In the late 1580s, Livorno was declared a porto Franco, a duty-free port. The Leggi_Livornine laws governed commerce and also granted freedom of religion; all were welcome if they contributed to the community.

Trade and freedom brought many immigrants: Armenians, Jews, Dutch, English, Greeks, Moriscos (Spanish Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism).

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals. Some canals remain in Livorno’s Venice district.

On this visit,  we choose to go local.  We took a city bus about 15 miles south of Livorno and then rode a creaky funicular (one of the oldest still in use,  dating from 1908) to the Santuario di Montenero.

It offers a great view of Livorno, and a glitzy 18th century Church with roots going back hundreds of years earlier.  The side chambers include some very unusual art: drawings and paintings depicting the deaths–mostly in accidents of various sorts–of some of the parishioners.

SANTUARIO DI MONTENERO

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A LIVORNO ALBUM

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0590

LIVORNO 7Apr2016 EDIT BLOG-4152

LIVORNO 7Apr2016 EDIT BLOG-

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0585

PISA

Less than an hour north of Livorno is the city of Pisa, which at its peak was one of the maritime republics of this part of the world. How can an inland city be a maritime power? Well, the Arno River used to be navigable from Pisa all the way to the sea; it silted up and was one of the reasons Pisa went into relative decline.

Oh, and their celebratory campanile became dangerously defective. That sort of thing can happen when you build on wet and unstable soil.

Livorno Florence Pisa1

Livorno Florence Pisa2

FLORENCE

Livorno Florence Duomo2

Livorno Florence Sandler2

Livorno Florence P Vecchio Sandler1

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

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AMAZON.COM by clicking on the banner below.

 

28 April 2016
Livorno, Italy: The Gateway

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’re back in Livorno, gateway to the glories of Florence, Pisa, and Tuscany. I posted a blog a few weeks ago, on April 7, with more comments.

On this visit,  I returned to Pisa to see if they have managed to repair their off-kilter campanile.  To the great relief of the tourist industry, the Tower of Pisa continues to tilt.

Livorno Florence Pisa2

Above, the Tower of Pisa peeks out around the baptistery on the Piazza dei Miracoli, the “Square of Miracles”.

On this trip I focused my camera on some of the details of the Baptistery,  Cathedral, and the Tower. It always pleases me to find a new way to view the tower,  a place I have seen more times than I can remember but always enjoy.

BLOG PISA 28Apr2016-5120

A PISA ALBUM: THE BAPTISTERY 

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A PISA ALBUM: THE CATHEDRALBLOG PISA 28Apr2016-5062

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A LIVORNO ALBUM

Livorno is mostly a place tourists pass through quickly on their way to other lures,  like Pisa, Florence,  Lucca, and Sienna. But it does have its particular charms.

LIVORNO 7Apr2016 EDIT BLOG-

LIVORNO 7Apr2016 EDIT BLOG-4152

At the Market in Livorno

Livorno BLOG 30Sept2014-7771

Below, from previous visits, the Duomo in Florence.

Livorno Florence Duomo2

Livorno Florence Duomo

The Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori was begun in 1296 and completed in 1436.

Alongside is Giotto’s Tower. It is topped with Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest.

It is known, of course, as Il Duomo, the dome.

One of the best ways to see Florence is to climb 463 steps up the tower.

Behind the church is the Duomo Museum, showcasing art by Donatello, Ghiberti and Michelangelo.

For a mix of history and art, visit the Medici Chapels on Via Cavour, the private sanctuaries of Florence’s most influential family of the Renaissance period.

One chapel was designed by Michelangelo; there are also Medici family tombs dating back to the 16th century.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

7 April 2016
Livorno, Italy: Just Passing Through?


By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa.

It’s a city of some interest, although most visitors just pass through on their way to some of Italy’s most resplendent inland gems.

LIVORNO 7Apr2016 EDIT BLOG-4149

The Mercado of Livorno

From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze) or visit one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa.

Or you can head to beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0590

Livorno’s canals

Livorno Sandler1

One of the many splendid sights of Florence is this old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (which means, old bridge).

It’s lined with shops and tourists.

It’s also an easy way to cross over the River Arno to the Oltrarno, (Beyond the Arno) the Left Bank of Florence, the south side of the Arno.

Livorno Florence Sandler2

Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500. It is a city with many impressive buildings, but truth be told almost everyone comes to see the one that is almost falling down: The Tower of Pisa.

Construction began in 1173. Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast. The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil.

It took five years, until 1178, for the tower to reach the third floor.

Then construction was halted for almost a century.

The Pisans were unsure how to proceed, and they were distracted by wars with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.

This was actually a stroke of good luck, since it allowed time for the underlying soil to settle. Otherwise, the tower would almost certainly have toppled.

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction.

Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the chamber with seven bells added in 1372.

In modern times, several efforts have–we hope–halted the continuing tilt and even straightened it up, just a bit.

Livorno Florence Pisa1

We will return to Livorno on April 28 and I will have additional comments in my blog entry for that day.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

15-16 September 2015
Livorno, Italy: The Glories of Florence, A Tower in Pisa, and the Rooftops of Lucca

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Livorno is a city that has some worthy places, although most visitors pass on by.

That’s because for those of us arriving by cruise ship, Livorno is the gateway to the great city of Florence.

Oh, and also one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. And also beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

We’re here for two days, which is about 363 days too short for a proper exploration. We’ll just have to make do.

A FLORENCE ALBUM

Livorno Florence Sandler2

Livorno Florence P Vecchio Sandler1

Livorno Florence Scuola del Cuoio

Livorno Florence Duomo

Livorno Florence Duomo2

A PISA ALBUM

Livorno Florence Pisa1

Livorno Florence Pisa2

Text and images copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

30 September/1 October 2014
 Livorno, Italy: Gateway to the Treasures of Florence, the Tower of Pisa, and the Rooftops of Lucca

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa. It’s a city of some interest itself, although most visitors use it as a gateway to inland gems.

From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze) or see one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. Or you can head to beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0591

The Terrazza Mascagni along the waterfront in Livorno honors the hometown composer. Photo by Corey Sandler

Livorno, home to about 160,000, is on the Ligurian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany.

Livorno was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance; it is among a relative few Italian towns that was actually planned.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0590

Not Venice, but the Venice District of Livrorno. Photo by Corey Sandler

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals. The remnants are in Livorno’s Venice district.

This region, and especially Florence and Tuscany were advanced places for language, art, and music. The Italian Renaissance was centered around Florence from the 1400s to the 1700s.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0587 B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0585

The Central Market in Livorno. Photo by Corey Sandler

Not coincidentally, it was the home of the Medici family, patrons of many of the great artists of the time.

In Florence, the Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori was begun in 1296 and completed in 1436.

B-FLORENCE_DUOMO1

Il Duomo in Florence. Photo by Corey Sandler

Alongside is Giotto’s Tower. And it is topped with Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest.

The Medici Chapels are the private sanctuaries of Florence’s most influential family of the Renaissance period.

Michelangelo’s David is the centerpiece of the Florence Academy, the Accademia.

B-FLORENCE_ACCAD1

Deeper within the Accademia, past David, is a storehouse of antiquities that would be the star of most other museums anywhere in the world. Photo by Corey Sandler

David is certainly quite a man, but my favorite part of the Academy lies deep within, kind of like an art museum’s attic. There are shelves of busts and vases, any of which would be a treasure at a lesser museum.

The largest collection of art in Florence, worth a trip all by itself, is the Uffizi Gallery. Built as the offices—the Uffizi—for Florentine magistrates, it became a museum in the 17th century.

By most appraisals, the world’s greatest collection of Italian masterpieces.

And there’s this old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (which means, old bridge). It’s lined with shops and tourists.

It’s also an easy way to cross over the River Arno to the Oltrarno, (Beyond the Arno) the Left Bank of Florence, the south side of the Arno.

On the Oltrarno is the fabulous Pitti Palace which includes three major museums. The Galleria Palatina is known for its collection of Raphaels. The Museo degli Argenti (The Silver Museum) for its applied art objects. And Boboli Gardens a handsome landscaped garden with a café.

The Pitti Palace is mostly Renaissance in design. The core dates from 1458 and was originally the little town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker.

The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

It’s almost like a private gallery in a great home, featuring Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and Pietro da Cortona.

Another of my favorites is Santa Croce, near the Duomo but off the regular tourist beat. It appeals to my preference for unusual mixtures.

The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world, with sixteen chapels.

Construction replacing an older building was begun in 1294 and completed in 1442. The floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross (a symbol of Saint Francis).

And from 1857 to 1863, a neo-Gothic marble façade was added.

The architect was Niccolo Matas from Ancona. He worked a prominent Star of David into the composition.

Presumably he had permission from the Franciscans, and presumably they also knew he was Jewish.

Matas had wanted to be buried at the church, but they couldn’t bend that much. Instead he is buried under the porch and not within the walls.

Inside are crypts for some of the most illustrious Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Gentile and Rossini.

Okay, so there is this city with a tower. Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500.

There is more to Pisa than just the Leaning Tower: at least 20 other historic churches, palaces, and other sights.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0575 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0533

The Tower and the Baptistry in Pisa. Photos by Corey Sandler

In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman king Roger I, took Palermo from the Saracen pirates. The gold treasure he took from the Saracens allowed the Pisans to start the building of their cathedral, campanile or bell tower, and baptistry.

Construction began in 1173. Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast.

The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil. It took five years, until 1178, for the tower to reach the third floor.

Then construction was halted for almost a century. The Pisans were unsure how to proceed, and they were distracted by wars with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.

This was actually a stroke of good luck, since it allowed time for the underlying soil to settle. Otherwise, the tower would almost certainly have toppled.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0571

The Arno at Pisa.Photo by Corey Sandler

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction. Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0544 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0551

Within the Baptistry at Pisa. Photos by Corey Sandler

In 1990, after several heart-stopping incidents in which modern instruments showed a sudden shift, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to take some weight off the top, and cables were fastened around the third level and anchored several hundred yards away.

The tower was straightened by 18 inches (45 centimetres), returned to the angle it had held in 1838.

Prior to the restoration, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees. Today the tower tilts 3.99 degrees southwest.

The medieval walled city of Lucca dates from the time of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.

Major sights include the Romanesque Duomo, built in the 13th century;  the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi; and San Michele in Foro.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0563 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0559

Other gems of Pisa including the Piazza Cavalieri. Photos by Corey Sandler

Or you can go to the former Roman forum and sit at a sidewalk café in the circular piazza and feel like a Lucchesian.

While you’re there, listen for the echoes of favorite son Giacomo Puccini, born in Lucca in 1858.

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST IN LOVORNO

Livorno was once a very cosmopolitan city, attracting traders and scholars from across Europe, including substantial Jewish and Muslim communities.

In the 18th century there were 14 rabbis and congregations.

Almost all was lost in World War II. In 1962, the Italian government paid for the construction of a new synagogue in Livorno. It is a striking modern design intended to evoke the feeling of a tent in the desert. Within, under a painted starry sky are some of the pieces of the old synagogues of Livorno.

Livorno BLOG 30Sept2014-7769 Livorno BLOG 30Sept2014-7768

All photos by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution copy please contact me.

11-12 April 2014. Livorno, Florence, Pisa, Lucca

The Glories of Florence, a Tower in Pisa, and the Rooftops of Lucca

By Corey Sandler, Silversea Destination Consultant

Livorno is Italy’s second-largest port, after Genoa. It’s a city of some interest itself, although most visitors use it as a gateway to inland gems.[whohit]-Livorno 11Apr-[/whohit]

From Livorno you can easily reach the great city of Florence (Firenze) or see one of the world’s iconic sites, a certain tower in the town of Pisa. Or you can head to beautiful Tuscany, Siena, and Lucca.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0591

The Terrazza Mascagni along the waterfront in Livorno honors the hometown composer. Photo by Corey Sandler

Livorno, home to about 160,000, is on the Ligurian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany.

Livorno was considered an ideal, or model town during the Italian Renaissance; it is among a relative few Italian towns that was actually planned.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0590

Not Venice, but the Venice District of Livrorno. Photo by Corey Sandler

At the end of the 17th century it was within fortified town walls—a few still stand—and crossed by navigable canals. The remnants are in Livorno’s Venice district.

This region, and especially Florence and Tuscany were advanced places for language, art, and music. The Italian Renaissance was centered around Florence from the 1400s to the 1700s.

B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0587 B-Livorno 12April2014 _DSC0585

The Central Market in Livorno. Photo by Corey Sandler

Not coincidentally, it was the home of the Medici family, patrons of many of the great artists of the time.

In Florence, the Basillica di Santa Maria dei Fiori was begun in 1296 and completed in 1436.

B-FLORENCE_DUOMO1

Il Duomo in Florence. Photo by Corey Sandler

Alongside is Giotto’s Tower. And it is topped with Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the world’s largest.

The Medici Chapels are the private sanctuaries of Florence’s most influential family of the Renaissance period.

Michelangelo’s David is the centerpiece of the Florence Academy, the Accademia.

B-FLORENCE_ACCAD1

Deeper within the Accademia, past David, is a storehouse of antiquities that would be the star of most other museums anywhere in the world. Photo by Corey Sandler

David is certainly quite a man, but my favorite part of the Academy lies deep within, kind of like an art museum’s attic. There are shelves of busts and vases, any of which would be a treasure at a lesser museum.

The largest collection of art in Florence, worth a trip all by itself, is the Uffizi Gallery. Built as the offices—the Uffizi—for Florentine magistrates, it became a museum in the 17th century.

By most appraisals, the world’s greatest collection of Italian masterpieces.

And there’s this old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio (which means, old bridge). It’s lined with shops and tourists.

It’s also an easy way to cross over the River Arno to the Oltrarno, (Beyond the Arno) the Left Bank of Florence, the south side of the Arno.

On the Oltrarno is the fabulous Pitti Palace which includes three major museums. The Galleria Palatina is known for its collection of Raphaels. The Museo degli Argenti (The Silver Museum) for its applied art objects. And Boboli Gardens a handsome landscaped garden with a café.

The Pitti Palace is mostly Renaissance in design. The core dates from 1458 and was originally the little town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker.

The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

It’s almost like a private gallery in a great home, featuring Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and Pietro da Cortona.

Another of my favorites is Santa Croce, near the Duomo but off the regular tourist beat. It appeals to my preference for unusual mixtures.

The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world, with sixteen chapels.

Construction replacing an older building was begun in 1294 and completed in 1442. The floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross (a symbol of Saint Francis).

And from 1857 to 1863, a neo-Gothic marble façade was added.

The architect was Niccolo Matas from Ancona. He worked a prominent Star of David into the composition.

Presumably he had permission from the Franciscans, and presumably they also knew he was Jewish.

Matas had wanted to be buried at the church, but they couldn’t bend that much. Instead he is buried under the porch and not within the walls.

Inside are crypts for some of the most illustrious Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Gentile and Rossini.

Okay, so there is this city with a tower. Pisa is on the right bank of the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Serchio, a city of about 87,500.

There is more to Pisa than just the Leaning Tower: at least 20 other historic churches, palaces, and other sights.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0575 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0533

The Tower and the Baptistry in Pisa. Photos by Corey Sandler

In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman king Roger I, took Palermo from the Saracen pirates. The gold treasure he took from the Saracens allowed the Pisans to start the building of their cathedral, campanile or bell tower, and baptistry.

Construction began in 1173. Almost immediately, the tower began leaning to the southeast.

The reason was quickly apparent: an insubstantial foundation on loose and wet soil. It took five years, until 1178, for the tower to reach the third floor.

Then construction was halted for almost a century. The Pisans were unsure how to proceed, and they were distracted by wars with Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.

This was actually a stroke of good luck, since it allowed time for the underlying soil to settle. Otherwise, the tower would almost certainly have toppled.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0571

The Arno at Pisa.Photo by Corey Sandler

In 1272, construction resumed. To try to compensate for the tilt, engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other.

The tower began to lean in the other direction. Because of this, the tower is actually curved, banana-like.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0544 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0551

Within the Baptistry at Pisa. Photos by Corey Sandler

In 1990, after several heart-stopping incidents in which modern instruments showed a sudden shift, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to take some weight off the top, and cables were fastened around the third level and anchored several hundred yards away.

The tower was straightened by 18 inches (45 centimetres), returned to the angle it had held in 1838.

Prior to the restoration, the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees. Today the tower tilts 3.99 degrees southwest.

The medieval walled city of Lucca dates from the time of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.

Major sights include the Romanesque Duomo, built in the 13th century;  the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi; and San Michele in Foro.

B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0563 B-Pisa 11April2014 _DSC0559

Other gems of Pisa including the Piazza Cavalieri. Photos by Corey Sandler

Or you can go to the former Roman forum and sit at a sidewalk café in the circular piazza and feel like a Lucchesian.

While you’re there, listen for the echoes of favorite son Giacomo Puccini, born in Lucca in 1858.