One thing I learnt about Pisa’s leaning tower

Why visit Pisa?

Pisa’s main attraction is of course the iconic leaning bell tower.

Over the years, it has become somewhat of a tourist hot-spot, with travellers keen to snap an interesting picture for their photo albums or – more recently – Instagram feed.

While the classic look is still the ‘holding up the leaning tower’ pose, people have started to get more creative by adding kung-fu kicks or handstands into their images. I even saw people using a variety of props to make their photos totally unique.

The thing about pictures of the leaning tower though, is their intricacy. Unlike other landmark images where tourists just stand somewhere in front of a famous building, the leaning tower of Pisa demands a certain degree of accuracy to get everything lined up perfectly. Thus, these photos will be some of the most important of your entire life! I mean, wedding pictures are the most important for obvious reasons. Passport photos come next because they require a focused and expressionless look. After that though, I’d say getting a picture of your hand flush against the side of the leaning tower of Pisa comes in at a solid 3rd!

Pisa picture problems

With selfies out of the question for logistical reasons, pictures of the leaning tower require an extra person to act as photographer. For most tourists in Pisa, this is not a problem. They visit with friends or family and can therefore take each other’s pictures until everyone is happy.

The problems occur when you visit Pisa as a solo traveller.

Without a trusty sidekick, you have to put your faith in a stranger to take one of the most intricate and important photos of your entire life! As a solo traveller myself, this is exactly what I did.

The results? I’ll let you judge for yourself – take a look:

pics of me leaning against the leaning tower of Pisa
Left: my hand is inside the tower. Right: my hand is nowhere near the tower!
pics of me leaning against the leaning tower of Pisa
Left: just all wrong. Right: no clue, I was trying to punch the tower but no idea what the photographer was doing!

As I’m sure you’ll agree, I wasn’t exactly satisfied with the pictures that strangers took! In fact, just to try and produce a photo that I was happy with, I ended up trying different poses, in different locations, with different strangers as my photographer. It evidently didn’t work though, as none of them quite nailed the shot as I would expect a friend or family member to.

After all the time and effort that I spent trying to get a single decent picture of myself with the leaning tower, there is one thing I learnt above all else:

“Unless you’re travelling with someone who’s willing to devote time and effort to completely nail the shot, you’ll end up with a bunch of hastily taken images that are mediocre at best.”

Luckily, after all that seemingly wasted effort, I had a secret weapon in my pocket – a smartphone app that allows me to control my camera remotely (including viewing a live image so I could adjust my position before taking the shot). Add in my mini tripod and I was all set! So instead of wasting more time gambling with strangers photography skills, I composed my own accurate pictures without the need for an extra person.

The results? A shade better I’d say, wouldn’t you agree?

2 images of me leaning against the leaning tower of Pisa
My self-taken leaning tower pics!




Don’t visit Pisa without a friend!


Side note: if you do visit Pisa without a friend but don’t have a camera with remote control, then you’re going to have to rely on the photography skills of strangers. When the time comes to approach someone and ask them to take your picture, you realistically have 2 options:

1. Hunt down another solo traveller. This method will probably yield the best results as fellow solo travellers are more likely to devote a little more time and effort to getting the perfect shot. However, it seems that solo travellers are somewhat of a rarity in Pisa. Either that or they were all hiding when I visited!

2. Butt in and ask someone. It might seem rude but you can’t hold back here. If you even think about hesitating, the opportunity will have passed and that person will have moved on. You see, tourists at the leaning tower are completely in the zone; they’re either snapping their friend’s picture, being snapped themselves, or wandering between snapping locations – there’s no hanging around waiting for strangers to approach them!


Final thoughts

Good luck! Have some fun when taking pictures around the leaning tower of Pisa and remember to be creative! Plus, don’t forget to actually take some time to admire the architecture and your surroundings. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of photo-taking and forget about why you visited in the first place!



sunglasses perched on the leaning tower of pisa
It’s hard taking a creative photo with just 1 pair of hands!



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