Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

PISA, Italy — When God allows a misfortune to happen, He also gives it an opportunity to be turned into magic, in fact, one of the seven wonders of the medieval world. Today, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions that draws thousands from all over the world.

We have arrived in Italy after a nine-hour tourist bus ride from Switzerland, and our first stop in Tuscany is Pisa after passing by Milan. Italy is bordered by France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Vatican City, and San Marino. Pisa is in the northwest coast, two hours from Florence and five hours north of Rome. It is a laid back, provincial town which is now considered a university area and a top tourist destination. The leaning tower is located in Piazza del Miracolli, comprising of four ancient buildings; the famous cathedral, the baptistry where Galileo was baptized, the monumental cemetery, and the leaning tower.

The tower's construction started in 1173 and was completed in 1339. Its original measurement was 60 meters tall, but because of the gradual but continuous leaning movement, it now measures 56.67 meters in the highest side and 55.06 meters in the lowest side. The total weight of the tower is 14,500 tons and the whole edifice, like the baptistry and the cathedral, is sinking. Pisa, meaning “marshland” in Greek, has a very soft foundation being a reclaimed land. In fact, the cemetery was built on a foundation of 53 shiploads of earth taken from Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. Both Pisa and Israel were part of the Roman Empire.

History tells us the tower was built by the medieval kingdom of Pisa to show off the stolen wealth after the king conquered Palermo in Sicily. This tower was set to be bombed by the US and the allied forces during World War II, but when the Americans saw the tower, they were awed by its beauty. Thus the tower was spared from destruction. Actually, there are many leaning towers in Pisa (we even saw one in Forli, Italy, after we visited Pisa), like the bell tower of the Church of St. Michel de Calzi and the tower of the Church of Saint Nicolo.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini hated the tower because, to his mind, it manifested the incompetence of Italian engineers, but his ambivalent efforts both to destroy it and to restore its original position failed because of many supervening events like wars and political upheavals. But what started as a national embarrassment is now one of the biggest attractions due to tourists coming every day to see it. Today, hotels in Pisa are always fully booked. Souvenir merchants make a brisk business as tourist continue to buy all kinds of memorabilia from Pisa.

And so, when God destroys, even the destruction creates value. Like the ruins in Greece and the Colosseum in Rome, blessings come endlessly in the form of economic prosperity brought in by a vibrant tourism industry. I hope the Philippines, in some ways, will have a share in such fortunes and blessings.

GOD
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