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8:24pm on Saturday, 29th July, 2006:



We went to Pisa today.

My first visit to Italy was to Pisa, in 1984. I went up the leaning tower several times in the morning and the evening, when it wasn't all that crowded. They closed it in about 1990 because it started listing qucker than it used to, and only recently reopened it again. So, this time we were going on a trip to somewhere we knew you could climb to the top of, and we had around 90 minutes in which to do it.

Well, we would have been able to if we'd had tickets.

It turns out that they do let people climb the tower, at 15 Euros each, but they only allow 30 people on the tower at once, one batch every 30 minutes. Given that there were nearly 30 coaches in the car park, our chances of getting a ticket were somewhat slim. If we wanted to go up, we should have booked months ago on some obscure Italian web site (in Italian), or maybe checked out eBay. Some tour operators do run prearranged tower runs, but not the local agent that Thompson Holidays used.

In the past, you merely stood in line for as long as it took to get inside, but no longer. It wouldn't have been the same, anyway, to be honest, as they've gone safety-conscious to the extent of erecting fencing to stop people from falling off by accident — how wimpy is that?

If only they'd let us climb the duomo, that would have been a reasonable second choice. Maybe it's because that building isn't exactly stable either...

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).