Why doesn’t the Leaning Tower of Pisa fall over?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has withstood earthquakes for centuries. Now, scientists know why.
Yes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing. Here’s why it’s earthquake-proof.
The tower and its 5.5 degree lean have vexed engineers for centuries.  

Partially constructed on unexpectedly soft soil, the ancient bell tower began to lean before it was even finished, a historical goof that went on to become one of the world’s historical oddities — and made the tower a UNESCO World Heritage site.

How can something so obviously structurally unsound endure in an earthquake-prone region for hundreds of years? People who assemble an IKEA cabinet and have 18 pieces left over don’t expect to pass a wobbly Hemnes down to their great-grandchildren.

Professor George Mylonakis wanted to know why.

You can read all about it here:


Villa Salviati


A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a famous villa in Fiesole, the Villa Saliviati.



Of course the villa has its own (gorgeous) chapel; here is a detail of the ceiling:



And the villa also has a grotto:



There is a lot of interesting interior detailing:



So, now you’ve seen my pictures, let’s get some info from Wiki on the Villa:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

History [ edit | wikitesto change ]

In the 14th century, the castle of the Montegonzi was built on this property land already belonged to the Del Palagio. In 1445, Arcangelo Montegonzi sold it to Alamanno Salviati , the man who introduced the cultivation of salamanna and jasmine grapesin Tuscany.


Alamanno commissioned Mielcozzian workers to reduce the castle to a villa, with a garden and woods . In 1490, the nephews of Alamanno, dividing their uncle’s assets, and gave the villa to Jacopo, who was related to Lorenzo de ‘Medici.


In 1493, new, considerable renovations were undertaken, to which perhaps Giuliano da Sangallo took part and which lasted about a decade.


Giovan Francesco Rustici also took part in the works. Between 1522 and 1526 he created for the villa a series of terracotta roundels with mythological subjects (such as Apollo and Marsyas or Jupiter and Bellerophon ).

Today the Villa’s  Limonaia is the the headquarters of the Historical Archives of the European Union.

In 1529, the house was sacked by the anti-cult faction and between 1568 and 1583 Alamanno di Jacopo Salviati and his son Jacopo further enlarged and embellished the villa, with the gardens ( 15701579 ) and the buildings that border the northern border and create a scenic backdrop connected to the villa.

New Year’s eve, 1638, was an event to remember. That evening, in this villa, the severed head of the lover of Caterina Canacci, was brought to the villa, hidden under the linen that the wife of Salviati, Veronica Cybo, sent him weekly.

The villa then passed to the AldobrandiniBorghese and on December 30th 1844 it was bought “with a closed gate” (ie with all the furnishings) from the Englishman Arturo Vansittard.

Then came the tenor Giovanni Matteo De Candia aka Mario, who lived there with his wife, the soprano Giulia Grisi , the Swedish banker Gustave Hagerman and finally, in 1901, the Turri.

The grotto: 

During the WWII, the grotto was used as the post of an allied command: Lensi Orlandi recounted the memory of nocturnal visits of “kind and rich Florentine, often mature matrons”, who “crossed the threshold of those rooms to give honor to the admired winners” [2 ] .

There followed a long semi-abandonment, in which the villa was not accessible even to scholars (he visited Lensi-Orlandi in 1950, but could not Harold Acton in 1973 ).

In 2000 the monumental complex, together with its gardens, was purchased by the Italian Government to be destined for the European University Institute , which made it the seat of the Historical Archives of the European Union ; one can mention, among the various documents contained in them, the personal papers of the founding fathers, such as Alcide De Gasperi , Paul-Henri Spaak , Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi .

The end of the renovations took place in October 2009 and on December 17, 2009 the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitanoinaugurated the Historical Archives of the European Union .

This villa was in communication with Villa Emilia (which was higher up) – which in ancient times was a convent of Cistercian nuns suppressed in 1453 – through an underground gallery : hence the other name with which the villa is known, “del Ponte at the Badia “.

Architecture [ edit | wikitesto change ]

The courtyard

The main body of the villa reveals its military origins, especially in the two crenellated turrets, in the corner, and in the crowning with the walkway on corbels , very similar, for example, to that of the villa of Careggi . It is made up of two adjacent buildings, but with similar architectural features: the east one is more massive and tall, the west one is of smaller volume and height.

The building is arranged around the central courtyard, portico on three sides with columns in pietra serena with Corinthian capitals ;the entablature towards the inside is decorated with graffito friezes, with the rounds of the Rustici inserted into this strip in correspondence with the round arches.

The interiors are often covered by vaulted , barrel and cross vaults .

Gardens [ edit | wikitesto change ]

The gardens

You get to the south facing of the villa through a long cypress avenue that once led to the Via Faentina and that after the construction of the railway was modified, creating a passage on it.

The Italian garden , in front of the villa, is built on three terraces at different levels and, although it is being restored, it is made up of geometric flower beds in boxwood with flowery essences. The property is then surrounded by a large English park , where there are, among other things, a bamboo grove, two ponds and, scattered here and there, various items of furniture, such as statues, temples, caves, fountains, pavilions and more.

Villa Salviati , or villa of the Ponte alla Badia , is located along the homonymous street near via Bolognese in Florence , [1]


Palazzo Davanzati and Elia Volpi

One of my favorite places in Florence is the Palazzo Davanzati. One look at one of the rooms in the palazzo will show you why I love it.  I visited it on my very first trip to Florence, almost 40 years ago.  It hasn’t changed one bit, except maybe it is even better now with more didactic info available.



We have the art dealer, Elia Volpi (1858–1938), to thank for having saved the Palazzo as it appears today.  In Florence, Volpi is known as the “father” of the Museum of the Old Florentine House in Palazzo Davanzati, as he was responsible for restoring the building and turning it into a private museum in 1910.




Now the museum, on via Porta Rossa, is opening its “Homage to Elia Volpi the Painter” exhibition, which offers the chance to discover a lesser-known side of the illustrious collector and antiquarian, that is, to see him as an artist.



Volpi trained at Florence’s Academy of Fine Arts. The current exhibition focuses on his training and the paintings he produced from the 1870s through the 1890s, with examples of his sketches and finished paintings, mostly in pristine condition.  All of these works have been donated to the museum from private collections.

Volpi’s sketches are testament to his studies of the Italian Renaissance masters and, along with the male nudes, show off the early artistic skills of a young Volpi.

The paintings demonstrate his broad range; during the 1880s he explored church scenes before concentrating on the subjects and style of the Macchiaioli and more contemporary artists such as Francesco Gioli and Niccolò Cannicci.


The show also includes a multimedia section featuring a video that focuses on the artist’s personal life and a touch-screen panel with photographs that demonstrate the creation of the museum.


The exhibition is open from May 6 to August 5 in the Palazzo Davanzati Museum.


The source of this info comes from:


Florence was literally carved out of the surrounding rocky hills

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Quarries and their role in the construction of Florence

An itinerary through Tuscany’s ‘cave’

Sabine Eiche
The Florentine, SEPTEMBER 8, 2006

Has it ever occurred to you that the stony city of Florence was literally carved out of the surrounding hills?  It’s quite true. Countless local quarries provided the blocks of stone for the walls of medieval and Renaissance churches and palaces, and for the columns and architectural ornaments to decorate them. Pietraforte, a kind of light brown limestone, came from quarries at Costa San Giorgio, in the Boboli hill between Santa Felicità and Porta Romana, at Bellosguardo, and around Marignolle and Le Campore, all south of the Arno. To the north, the hills of Fiesole, Maiano and Settignano provided the blueish-grey sandstone pietra serena.

In the 13th century, load after load of pietraforte was hauled over the Arno to the outskirts of Florence to construct the enormous basilicas of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. Even the piers inside these two churches are of pietraforte. Look at Palazzo Vecchio, the Log-gia dei Lanzi, the Bargello and Orsanmichele, and you are looking at pieces of the southern hills transformed into architecture. The gigantic blocks of rustication that you see on the façades of the 15th-century Palazzo Medici were cut out of pietraforte quarries. Filippo Strozzi, whose palace rivals that of the Medici in size, had endless loads of stone brought from quarries at Boboli and Marignolle. It is said that between November 1495 and March 1497, Strozzi’s heavily-laden carts rattled over the Arno more than a thousand times. At Palazzo Pitti, the builders had it much easier, since their source (the Boboli hill) was right behind the palace. In fact, Palazzo Pitti sits on the hollowed out part of one of these quarries.


If pietraforte was used mainly for the construction of walls, pietra serena was used above all for columns, stairs, doors and windows. The oldest of these quarries, dating back to Etruscan times, were at Monte Ceceri in Fiesole, and they continued to be worked during the Roman and early medieval periods. The demand for pietra serena was so high that in the 13th century new quarries had to be opened further east, around Vincigliata and Settignano. By the 15th century, when Brunelleschi’s architectural style boosted the popularity of pietra serena to unprecedented heights, it was also being extracted at Golfolina, west of Florence.


Brunelleschi chose quarries that would provide enormous blocks of pietra serena from which he could cut entire column shafts. He quarried the stone for the loggia of the Ospedale degli Innocenti at Trassinaia, near Vincigliata. The columns for San Lorenzo came from a site nearby, still known as the Cava delle Colonne.



General Dwight D. Eisenhower as protector of cultural heritage


The cumulative weight and momentum of General Marshall’s mid-October admonition about the importance of protecting Italy’s cultural treasures, followed by successive warnings from McCloy and Woolley and the reports of Monuments officers themselves, finally produced a change.

On December 29, General Eisenhower Eisenhower issued a directive that placed the responsibility of protecting cultural property squarely upon the shoulders of every commander and, in turn, every officer and every soldier.

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It also, for the first time, introduced the Monuments officers (referenced as “A.M.G. officers”—Allied Military Government) to everyone in uniform.  Here is Eisdenhower’s directive:

To: All Commanders Today we are fighting in a country which has contributed a great deal to our cultural inheritance, a country rich in monuments which by their creation helped and now in their old age illustrate the growth of the civilization which is ours. We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows. If we have to choose between destroying a famous building and sacrificing our own men, then our men’s lives count infinitely more and the building must go. But the choice is not always so clear-cut as that. In many cases the monuments can be spared without any detriment to operational needs. Nothing can stand against the argument of military necessity. That is an accepted principle. But the phrase “military necessity” is sometimes used where it would be more truthful to speak of military convenience or even of personal convenience. I do not want it to cloak slackness or indifference. It is a responsibility of higher commanders to determine through A.M.G. Officers the locations of historical monuments whether they be immediately ahead of our front lines or in areas occupied by us. This information passed to lower echelons through normal channels places the responsibility of all Commanders of complying with the spirit of this letter.


Ike’s directive was bold; it was concise; and it was now official policy. His Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith, issued an accompanying order that provided more specific details on how this new policy should be implemented.

Woolley remarked that Ike’s words “made it clear that the responsibility for the protection of monuments lay with the army as a whole and not with the [Monuments officer] specialist.”

Even Churchill weighed in on the matter: “The weakness of the Monuments and Fine Arts organization in the past was . . . due to the fact that it had . . . depended on an external civilian body not in touch with the Army. . . . The new arrangements which have been worked out in the light of experience are well calculated to promote, as far as military exigencies allow, a more effective effort to protect historical monuments of first importance in the future.”

Many problems lay ahead for implementing this new order. Mistakes would continue. The order would be put to the test in a major way within just six weeks.

But it marked the turning point for the Monuments officers and their work. For the first time since Mason Hammond had landed in Sicily, the Monuments Men had the backing of the Commander-in-Chief. Their work contributed greatly to the experience Eisenhower would take with him to England to plan the invasion of Western Europe as the newly appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.


Edsel, Robert M.. Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis (p. 68). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Villa Peyron, Fiesole


The villa, the formal garden and the vast park have a splendid location and enjoy a spectacular view over Florence. The place takes its name from a 16th century spring that flows in a thick wood uphill from the villa and which by gravity supplies the water necessary to work the many fountains in the garden and park.

It is likely that the villa itself was built on top of Etruscan ruins, traces of which can be seen in the underground chambers and the immediate surroundings for example in the cyclopean walls which rise in the park. It was however subjected to a series of renovations and transformations before architect Giovannozzi gave it its present day look in the early twentieth Century.

The garden is built on three terraces that slope southwards and has a wooded parterre parallel to the villa. Paolo Peyron was the creator of the lake and the architectural and monumental structure above it. The prestigious statues that decorate the garden in the place of those which were destroyed during World War II come from the Venetian villas of the Brenta.


info: www.bardinipeyron.it