Stairway to Hell – Friday Fictioneers: 3rd March, 2022

“Idiot! You absolute idiot! Most people climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa to appreciate its exquisite, historic architectural beauty and mind-blowing views.

Instead, you go there to deal with all your phobias at once…claustrophobia, acrophobia, agoraphobia, and heaven help you if you come across a spider, because your arachnophobia will be the death of you.

However, the book said you could do anything. Carpe diem seize the day. Keep breathing. Yet, you know you’re going to die in that tower, and nothing can save you.  

“How many stairs to the top?”

Once again, living with myself was my toughest battle.


100 words PHOTO PROMPT © Anne Higa (thank you Anne!)

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields Every week, we write 100 words or less to a photo prompt and the results always astound me. I’ve found it incredibly worthwhile.

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to respond to this week’s prompt. In some ways, being confronted by such a well-known public landmark made it harder.

Lately, I have been going on little trips via Google Earth. It was been absolutely mind-blowing particularly as I’m still largely in lockdown avoiding covid for medical reasons. So, I decided to head to Pisa, and have a look around the tower. Well, despite clicking on the tower itself, I didn’t land there, and spent quite a time poking around all sort of alleyways and still not finding what I’d assumed would be unmissable. I went back to my search and really tried to be more specific, and this time when I came to, I was standing right in front of the tower and tilting my head right back to get a look at the top. Wow! I turned around and there was an another possibly more exquisite site – the Cattedrale di Pisa. How could one place be blessed with such incredible architecture on one spot? I guess it helps being in Italy!

I had a bit of a wander around Google, and came across a video of climbing up the tower. Aha! Now, I had my angle. However, where I started out was a bit different to where I ended up, and that was with those famous words of “The Little Engine That Could”: “I think I can! I think I can” as it tried to climb of the mountain. I thought of trying to climb up all those stairs with my dodgy lungs with 50% capacity and I was locked in this battle between “I think I can” and “No I can’t!!” That got left out as well, and as often happens, the story took on a life of it’s own.

Not too sure about the angle of this photo, but I’m sure my heart skipped a beat when I saw it close up for the first time even via Google Earth. It is so beautiful, detailed and incredible!

Thank you for reading, and if you feel like climbing up those stairs without doing it yourself, here’s a video link:

Best wishes,


22 thoughts on “Stairway to Hell – Friday Fictioneers: 3rd March, 2022

  1. trentpmcd

    Yep, the tower is the bell tower for the duomo, or cathedral. And the cathedral and baptistry (another building in the complex) both lean a little as well!

  2. Rowena Post author

    I saw the bells in the tower, but didn’t make the connection. Thanks for that, Trent. I was too focused on the aesthetics to think about how it all functioned together.
    Have you climbed up there? IN the videos I watched, they were talking about how the lean was more noticeable inside and it seemed to bring on vertigo. I don’t think I’d go well trying to get up there, and goodness knows how they’d get you down if you conked out half way.

  3. trentpmcd

    When I was there it was closed for repair. I did tour the cathedral. The tour guide was the one who pointed out that all of the buildings had a bit of a tilt…

  4. Rowena Post author

    Sorry you missed going up the tower, but touring the cathedral would’ve been spectacular. Could you sense the tilt in the Cathedral?

  5. trentpmcd

    When inside of it, not really. From outside, at certain angles, it was obvious. And the baptistry was even more obvious. But then, that was 25 years ago, so I don’t remember all of the details…

  6. Bear

    Loved your story, and your personal notes. Lockdown sucks! In our area, that nightmare has virtually lifted and we’re expected to be without mask mandate next week. I gotten so used to it that I hardly notice it’s there, except when it’s not. I love exploring via google and youtube. I love caves, but have a bit of fear concerning tight spaces and stone… I’ve found tons of cave videos on youtube . Enjoy this one

  7. Margaret

    I think living with oneself is a tough battle for a lot of us. I like how you portrayed the inner voice/s here. Very convincing. And where do I get ‘the book’?

  8. msjadeli

    I love the “twist” where the reader learns it is a conversation she is having with herself. Cool to learn how you can have adventures via google. Will have to try that.

  9. rochellewisoff

    Dear Rowena,

    I suffer from acrophobia. Have since I can remember. I’ve been known to freak out in stadiums. When with a group in Israel we climbed a winding staircase to get to the top of a stone wall. I held together but will always remember the incident as Terror on the Walls of Jerusalem. 😉 So I could relate to your MC.



  10. Rowena Post author

    Yes, indeed. I am not much of a night driving but after the last two years of covid issues, I’d forgotten. Drove myself to the theatre to see 42nd Street and the windscreen was fogged up and I ended up driving over the top of a roundabout. Fortunately, I didn’t do any damage and the roundabout is designed for buses to go over it. However, it did make a nasty noise.

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