Day 1,052: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy.

Galileo is not the native of Pisa to make important advances in mathematics and science.  In the twelfth century, Leonardo of Pisa (Leonardo Pisano) reintroduced decimal mathematics into medieval Europe and described the “golden ratio,” the mathematics underlying what is commonly known as the Fibonacci Spiral.  Laetitia apologizes for the tortured rhyme of the limerick.

Less known than Pisa’s Galileo
Is its son Leonardo Pisano,
“Fibonacci” by name
Of decimals fame
And the spiral based on the gold ratio.

Day 1,051: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy. Cathedral.

Next to its famous bell tower in Pisa is the twelfth century cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  Suspended from the ceiling of its nave is a lamp on a long cord.According to tradition, while Galileo was attending mass, he noted that the lamp moved in a slight and regular manner. These observations led to his understanding of the science of pendulum motion and eventually to the pendulum clock.

Pisa Cathedral’s lamp in its nave
Spawned in Galileo a brain wave
Which gave him a notion
Of pendulum motion
And the pendulum clock to us gave.

Day 1,050: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Pisa, Italy. Leaning Tower.

On a second day in port at Livorno, Laetitia led an excursion to Pisa along with a local guide.  Mention Pisa and for most it brings to mind Galileo and the leaning tower.  From its top, we are told, he dropped two balls and demonstrated that their rates of descent were the same despite their differing masses.  The structure is, in fact, the bell tower of the nearby cathedral.  It was built on soil with compaction properties inadequate to support it.  It was a scandal in its day, so much so that the architect left it unsigned and slinked away in disgrace.  Stabilizing the famous tower against complete collapse is a constant and expensive battle. Laetitia thought the tower deserved a limerick.

The cathedral bell tower in Pisa
From which Galileo did release a
Pair of balls of renown
That at same rate came down
Is as famous as the Mona Lisa.

Day 1,049: Mediterranean Cruise 2. Terre del Lago, Italy.

Laetitia led her group on an excursion from Livorno to Terre del Lago, Italy.  Opera composer, Giacomo Puccini lived in Terre del Lago, Italy for thirty years during which he composed most of hisbest-known operas.  He remodeled and added on to the watchtower for which the town is named and made it his residence.  The lake has several marshy areas that suited his interest in hunting.  When his success as a composer brought inconsiderable wealth, he became fond of automobiles and yachts and owned several of each.  He died in 1926 following surgery for throat cancer (he was a smoker).  He is entombed in one of the thick walls of the part of his residence that was once the tower.

At Torre del Lago, Puccini
Lived as star of the grand opera scene, he
There great operas wrought
All except Turandot
And drove cars like Isotta Fraschini.