Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leaning and Learning in Pisa

Had a busy day of sightseeing and lectures in Pisa on 5/23.
We took a day trip from Florence to Pisa today. First, we started out with a guest lecturer at the University of Pisa about the evolution of stone use through the ages. The lecturer is a colleague of Professor Ballarini's, and he is a renowned scholar in the field of civil engineering.

Then we headed across town to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa! All of us trekked to the top of the 187-foot tower (even those with a slight fear of heights).

Before leaving, we took a quick walk through the cathedral next door, which houses a carved 14th-century pulpit by Giovanni Pisano. Next to the pulpit is a chandelier called Galileo's Pendulum, said to inspire some of his theories about motion.

On our way back to the train station, we all had lunch together at this little place Professor Ballarini knows with excellent wood-fired pizza! So good...

Upon returning to Florence, we had another guest lecturer. Professor Bartoli explained the causes of the cracking in the Duomo, which we will be touring tomorrow. He also told us the different ways they are monitoring the cracking, and the ideas that have been proposed to keep the Duomo safe in the future. All of our guest lecturers on this trip have been very knowledgeable.