The day after Siena and San Gimignano, my art history class took a trip to Pisa. As soon as we got off the bus, we were swarmed with men trying to sell us leaning tower umbrellas, purses, sunglasses, lighters, mini-figurines, and even some pocket-size statues of the David. Wrong city but whatever. I’m glad these vendors realize it’s important to have a mini-David with you at all times, just in case, you know, someone doubts Michelangelo’s magnificence and you can flourish your David from your figurine-filled pockets and say, “THIS is why you’re wrong! Just look at that craftsmanship!”
I’m getting a little carried away.
We were then swept into the crowd of other tour groups, led by tour guides who waved their mini-Davids taped to backscratchers high in the air in order to differentiate themselves from the other tour guides with the unoriginal leaning towers taped to backscratchers. We took a much needed cappuccino break and I proceeded to watch tourists make a complete fool of themselves as soon as they got within camera-range of the tower. The shameless, utter joy everyone had while holding the tower up and knocking the tower down; poking it, kissing it, kicking it; flashing peace signs, doing the splits, rolling on the ground with feet poised in a bicycle crunch; there were group shots, selfies, parents posing their children and couples trying to aim the camera as they went in for a kiss. And, of course, there was that universal mime of clicking the camera’s shutter when asking strangers to take your precious recorder of self-directed moments in their hands, count to three, and make another memory.
I was so fascinated with watching everyone else that I forgot to take a photo of the tower myself. The world will probably survive without another picture of the Pisa tower on Facebook. As I walked back to the vast parking lot of tour buses, I considered purchasing an apron with a strategically placed leaning tower to commemorate the day (besides, how could I possibly remember this moment without “pinching” the tower or buying an overpriced souvenir?!), but I resisted the temptation and got back on the bus to go to Pietrasanta.