The Leaning Tower
“This tower really leans. I mean to an unexpected extent, even though it’s already been pulled back a little, so it used to be even closer to toppling over. But I already know why it doesn’t lean over any further, and it’s not thanks to structural engineers, but thanks to the efforts of about fifty tourists a minute – or more – who hold it up...
We bought the tickets, the price is 18 euros/head to climb the tower, while the other buildings can be entered for 8 euros total. You can go to the latter at any time, but there are quarter-hour windows for the tower, and when you buy a ticket, it is also written how much space is available for which time.
The time for the dreaded task of climbing the tower has arrived. I have such a fear of heights that if I wanted to hang myself from a walnut tree I’d only be able to string up my lifeless body – vertigo would have killed me before the noose. I told my wife that I didn’t think we should buy two tickets and that I’d wait at the bottom.
Anyway, there is nothing else to see from above, since the only sight is this square, and I could already see that from the ground. All the same, though, it’s not as though you get to clamber inside a sort of giant pole stuck into the ground, which looks as though some passing giant has stumbled against it. I’ve already seen from the bottom that I’m going to be dead up there, there isn’t so much as a regular railing, and I’m going to need at least two feet of dead space to dare look at all. Courage ...
It's our turn, everyone gets scanned with a metal detector at the entrance, and here too there are soldiers with machine guns, the fearsome Ivecos, just like in Florence. Sometimes one of these gun-toting soldiers was standing right next to the metal detector, so that little sunburned Jürgen, all of ten years old, was standing at eye level with the barrel of a loaded machine gun. We can thank terrorists for allowing us to experience this kind of terror, even in their absence.
We enter the tower, which can hold around thirty visitors at a time, while at the entrance the tour guide saying some interesting things. Then you can begin struggling up the endless spiral staircase. I let everyone go in front of me, anticipating the possibility that I would have to turn back.
The stairs are just wide enough for two people, but I don’t want to have to squeeze past all these people, illuminating the stairwell with my white-as-a-sheet complexion. I set off, my wife reassuring me that it wouldn’t be scary and that I should just go.
The lean of the tower is incredibly evident from inside as well. It’s ok so long as it feels as though it’s only leaning in one direction, but as you climb it feels as though it’s tilting in different directions. It’s as if someone is shaking the entire tower as you climb it, and always in the most awkward direction. In the end, I couldn't stand it, and I had to turn back ...
When I got down, I fell to my knees in shame – can I really be such a goof? Like, I’m here now, but not really? I went inside again, but again, it was like bouncing off an invisible wall. So yeah, I can be such a goof, but I said that in advance. Goodbye, 18 euros!
Take care of yourself! The sight of the square was still worth it because with its very beautiful, ivory-colored buildings, the buildings in the glowing green square look as if they were the dried-out pieces of a dinosaur skeleton.” (2017)