Europe For The Senses

Author/Photographer Vicki Liston blogs on her book and some interesting places she's traveled. "Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal" was published under the name 'Vicki Landes'.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pisa: Lean on Me

Why is it that an architect’s blunder is one of the most loved travel destinations in the world? The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of those oddities that would have probably never become famous without its tilt. Already developing during construction, the tower’s tip continues as does efforts to stop it from becoming dangerous to visitors.

I love the irony in's what I say in my book: Pisa is a collection of clay-colored roofs being curtly interrupted by a pallid square of marble structures. Contain a smirk when you ponder Pisa’s only claim to fame is an engineering failure; imagine the perplexing mixture of pride and embarrassment for its creator, knowing the world remembers you for this crooked tower too unstable to ring its own bells.”

The tower’s fame overshadows the other residents that share the space in the same piazza: the Cathedral, the Cemetery, and the Baptistery. The Cathedral, containing the whispers of the respectful, quickly humbles the outsider with its dizzying height and dazzling artistry. The Cemetery is an anthology of arched windows, one after another consuming each hallway. Its inhabitants sleep forever underfoot as their markers adorn the walls and floors of the echoing corridors. Finally, the Baptistery silently awaits visitors leaving its slanted neighbor. Although the Leaning Tower steals away most of Pisa’s tourist attention, the Baptistery can hold its own once its talent is recognized and appreciated. The entrance worker performs a three-pitched concert. Listen to a single note sung and how long the sound takes to dissipate in the great span above. Listen again to the same single note followed by a new pitch. Close your eyes and listen to the first, second, and now a third note, sung in a chord; one voice and three echoes filling the reverberating dome with a chilling harmony.

Despite the tacky row of bustling junk shacks along its outskirts the piazza is a peaceful place to explore, especially during the winter months when the tourist traffic is at its lowest. The monuments don’t take very long to visit, leaving time to peruse the neighboring museums or simply enjoy the view from a quiet bench nearby.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Can you believe that it's 2007 already?? I'm still in shock but my entire world's currently a bit upside down right now anyway. We've moved back to the states...and I'm already missing Germany. I can't complain, though - the Army's allowed us to stay overseas for seven years, which is incredibly long for a military tour. I went from 'never traveled' to 'can't get enough', visited a whopping 45 countries throughout Europe and Africa, and published a book. Of course, I don't plan on staying stateside for long...Rob's here for a normal three-year tour but I'm already planning vacations back! :)

So, now's the time of year when everyone's working hard to keep their New Year's resolutions. What's on your list? Normally, I make a list of about 20...with the crazy notion that I can actually keep them all. Stringent things, like "I will practice the piano at least once a week for at least an hour" (I've slacked off since my college days of practicing every night for an hour or two...). No, this year my resolutions amount to only a small handful and are much more flexible (or at least more loosely defined):

* Work out more (see, 'more' would be anything above 'once every couple of months', which is where I am right now)
* Write more (which *should* be easy as I'm waiting for the Army to find me a new job...although being crammed in this one-room hotel room for over two weeks with a 7-year-old with cabin fever and a husband who hasn't had 100 channels of cable in seven years isn't helping...)
* Work on my second book (I'll let you know more about that as it progresses!)

That's it! That's all I'm holding myself to this year. So even though I'm back in the states, I'll still be working on new articles on European travel. If you don't get my weekly newsletter, send me an email at vicki(at) to be added to the distro list!

Have a great 2007!