In the years leading up to my retirement, my workplace had instituted a new set of company values which counted among them, the principle of celebrating failures as well as our successes. It is generally known that from failure comes eventual success, and if one can learn from the mistake without fear of negative retaliation for the mistake, it fosters an environment conducive to innovation. It’s how children learn to walk. Therefore, all stand to gain when one attempts a new idea, and even if it fails, learning from what went wrong brings us closer to success.
I bring this up after our excursion to the Field of Miracles, where we went to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. If ever there was a list of grand failures, surely this tower would be on it.
Standing, or should I say leaning, next to 3 other buildings, all architectural marvels in their own rights, the Tower is the main attraction. The Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Cemetery were all planned, designed and built together with the Tower to celebrate the Pisans victories of war and trade and to showcase the strength of the city in the 12th Century. They are true works of art, likely innovative in their time, in white marble, mixing different styles from Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.
I have not seen many towers that even come close to the beauty of the Tower of Pisa, even with its flaw. Her architects had taken into consideration the land on which it is built and laid a marble foundation over the clay sand and shell terrain as a precaution. Despite these efforts, the tower began to lean after only 3 of the 8 floors had been completed. Designs were altered, to add an inch to the floors on the opposing side to correct the lean, but that did not work. Construction stopped and started for almost two hundred years while engineers and architects tried to correct the lean, and finish the tower. It continues to sink 2mm a year, although recent efforts to pour a concrete foundation seems to have been effective. Currently, it leans at a 5.5 degree from its vertical.
One million visitors a year are drawn to Pisa because of the Tower.
Without it, the Field of Miracles would still be a site worthy of a visit, but would we come? Her flaws are what makes her unique, and attractive. Intended to be a celebration of victory – it was and is, a celebration of a failure. But truly, a remarkable failure, appreciated by all who take her picture.