Cowboy Builders

When you’re putting up a tower the last thing you want your architect or builder to be is a cowboy.

However, on a family holiday I got the chance (many years ago) to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is a great tourist attraction for the city and at the time, tourists were allowed to go up to the top. The UNESCO listed tower still seems to be a favourite with the crowds, but climbing up it back then was a real experience.

The staircases took you up a level at a time. The only problem, for me anyway, was you got to the top of one flight of stairs, but then had to go around the other side of the tower to start the next. This meant walking around the outside of the tower. A tower that had no railings on the outside levels. The next level you would have to go around the inside. All of this activity on and within a structure that was leaning.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

On the outer rings I was terrified. It was only once we were all back down that our guide told us someone had fallen off the previous week. Being scared of heights, or perhaps more specifically, scared of falling from a height, it was probably just as well that was not mentioned until afterwards.

Climbing the tower took a lot longer than I thought because of the clumsy way you ended up having to walk. Depending upon where you were in relation to the angle the tower was leaning, you had to either lean over to the inside or the outside. This presented a problem because as soon as you passed the axis of the lean, your body was immediately pushed in the other direction. That was funny to watch happen to other people, but the time it caught me out I went white in the face, then a funny shade of grey apparently.

If you get the chance to go up the tower, I’d recommend it even if you are scared of heights, but watch out for that clumsy walk. Don’t laugh at others because sooner or later you’re bound to get caught out yourself.


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