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Slow Tuscany > Tuscany > Pisa > The Tower Houses of Pisa
The Tower-houses of Pisa:
ships in a sea of stone

Damiano Andreini
These are towers that were built during the Middle Ages by the more powerful families of Pisa. The necessity to build inside the city walls for defensive purposes, and the impossibility to develop the vacant land outside the city walls, provoked a vertical development of the city's structures so much like that of today's modern cities.

The towers were as high and ambitious as the families that erected them and began to line the Tuscan skies with their outlines. Not just in Pisa, but in Florence, which possessed more than 200, Siena, Lucca and San Gimignano these structures attempted to touch the heavens with their height. San Gimignano is probably the most well-known for its towers today because it has done the best job of conserving them and still boasts of total of seven even today.

But probably the tower-houses in Pisa are by far the most exceptional and original. The irregular curve towards the bottom due to the weight of the stone caused the need for special arches which instead of being curved in shape, are pointed which helps support the weight of the structure. The material (wood) used to build these strange pointed arches was the same that was used to build the ship-frameworks in the time of the Crusades.

If the Pisan ships were able to support the strong friction of the sea, they realized the same structural basis and material would also be able to support the enormous weight of the stone used to build the towers. The "tower-houses" of Pisa, really, do resemble ships in a sea of stone.

Damiano Andreini
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