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Tower of Pisa – The tower, the stars and the ram

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with its 56 meters hanging to one side, is one of Italy’s most famous monuments. The building dominates Piazza dei Miracoli and boasts many little secrets.
The first curiosity about it concerns a superstition that may be disappearing but which older Pisans remember well: according to tradition, climbing the 276 steps to the top of the bell tower would bring bad luck to people born and raised in Pisa. The reason is unclear, but even today a great many Pisans have never experienced this.
A second curiosity arises from the fact that no one really knows who was the first engineer to work on it. Despite Vasari’s claim in “Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori,” published in 1568, it would not be the illustrious sculptor Bernardo Pisano who was the real father of the Tower. There are many hypotheses about the authorship of the building, but to date no one has yet managed to solve the mystery.
Finally, a third curiosity concerns the ancient Pisan Calendar. Indeed, at the entrance of the Tower one can observe a bas-relief depicting a ram, the symbol of Pisa. Until the arrival of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the year in Pisa began on March 25, not January 1.

Therefore, the Pisan New Year was celebrated under the sign of the ram, as is still the case today with a grand ceremony in front of the cathedral. But what makes the relationship between Pisa, the stars and the zodiac more mysterious and fascinating is the particular arrangement of the three monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli. The tower, the cathedral and the baptistery perfectly trace the astral position of the constellation Aries.

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