It amazed me when we got to the Campo Dei Miracoli just how many tourists seemed to dash up the Leaning Tower and then dash off out of this square somewhere else. Loads of people seemed to come to take the “holding the Tower up” pictures then beat a hasty retreat to the next tourist hot spot. What a treat they were missing out on here by doing that. Determined not to fall into this trap, we spread our time equally between the Tower and the “rest.”
The Tower is top notch but the other buildings are too – this square has one of Europe’s greatest groups of Romanesque buildings. They trace life’s path for medieval people from birth to death and the whole square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – why would you not want to linger here? It is beautiful – sparkling white buildings and vivid green grass. Tons of tourists around but actually it really didn’t feel too crowded for us. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, just mooching around the square and the buildings. It is free to go inside the cathedral – there was a service going on during our visit so we were restricted to the area at the back, but it is very impressive.
Our ticket to climb the tower also included entrance to the Baptistery – probably my favourite building in the square. Gorgeous from the outside – big, round with white marble inlaid with greenish black marble, inside it is calm and sacred. We found the huge font where baptisms were performed and the marble pulpit with beautifully carved nativity scene.
There are 77 steps to climb to the upper level – let’s just say having climbed to the top of the tower, Son was not exactly bursting with enthusiasm about this but perked up when I reminded him these steps were not at an alarming tilt. There is a little area upstairs with “cut out” mesh where you can get a great view of the Leaning Tower and the cathedral.
There is another treat in the Baptistery – every half hour the ticket checker from the entrance comes inside. A hush descends and he shouts out a few sounds. When they echo round and round the circular building the echo effect creates an amazing sound – like beautiful music. I have never experienced anything like this before – unmissable and remarkable. Son was seriously impressed with this (we all were) and actually wanted to stay to hear it again half an hour later – that says it all really. Inside the Baptistery a handful of people listened, it was not at all crowded, what a treat most tourists seemed to miss – if you visit this square make sure you hear it!