Workers laid the original stone foundation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1173 [source: PBS]. Their rookie mistake -- building an eight-story stone and marble tower topped with several tons of church bells on loose, sandy soil -- would become the most famous architectural blunder in the world. More than 800 years later, the tower remains a "can't miss" destination for more than a million gawking tourists every year.
And what an experience it is! First, there is the inconvenient fact of getting to Pisa, which is a three-hour-plus train ride from Rome and nearly an hour train ride from Florence. But then you're at the tower, right? No, that would be about a mile away from the train station. But don't worry, you'll have plenty of company alongside the hundreds of other sweaty tourists who are also speed-walking their way past pushy trinket vendors and stalls of knockoff handbags and watches [source: Lonely Planet].
The site of the actual tower is actually quite beautiful. The tower is one of three Romanesque structures on a vast green square called the Piazzi dei Miracoli [source: Lonely Planet]. Good thing you bought your entrance ticket online (€18 or $24) before you came, or else you might be waiting in that two-hour line to begin the arduous climb up the leaning tower. What, you didn't buy your ticket?! That's OK, while you wait in line, the rest of the group can each take the obligatory staged photo of pretending to hold up the tower. Don't be discouraged that every single other person who has ever visited Pisa has done the exact same thing. It doesn't mean you're not original. It just means you're in Pisa.