[Picture of aerial view of Piazza Del Campo, Siena, Tuscany]I remember studying (many years ago now) Tuscan towns. I loved visiting San Gimignano, Pisa, Siena, Florence and the rest.

I am especially glad to have visited Siena with the girl I since married. I will never forget the heat of the day as Ruth and I stood with the crowds on the Piazza del Campo, right outside the Palazzo Comunale’s tower as [Picture of the New York style towers of ancient San Gimignano,  Tuscany]the cars for the Mille Miglia came and went.  We didn’t go up the tower as I had been up years before.

San Gimignano is probably the most famous place for towers — there are loads, but not for us on this trip. We didn’t go up the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa either.

That’s the way it is with us; we hate standing in queues and deplore being shepherded around with crowds of tourists.

[Picture iof The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France]It struck me that people (or should I say, tourists) love towers.  It seems to me that they will travel across the world to climb up the Eiffel Tower or The Empire State Building.

I wonder why that is. I can fully understand why we have towers and lighthouses, it is so that we can see enemies approaching. The higher the tower, the further you can see.

I can just about recall the formula too.  It starts off with a right-angled triangle, Pythagoras’s Theorem, and some facts — such as Planet Earth’s radius being 6378 km.

  • The formula is simply the square root of double the product of the Earth’s Radius and the tower height (m) divided by a thousand to get the answer in kilometres. ([2.6378] . h /1000)0.5

You wind up with a very simple formula for your tower/horizon relationship.

[Picture of Horizon at sea]The distance (km) to the vanishing point on the horizon is the square root of thirteen times the height (m) of your tower.

  • Let’s say you are standing on the beach looking at the horizon of the sea against the sky. Your height will be 1.8m or thereabouts, which means that the horizon is (13 . 1.8)0.5 away — which is — (23.4)0.5 which is 4.837 km.

You can immediately see the advantage of putting your castle up on a hill, building towers, and understanding lighthouses.  Naturally, you can work out how far a tower is (as long as you know it’s height) — you just wait until the tower’s top appears on the horizon!

Check out the height of statues here. Easterners seem to be obsessed with extremely tall structures and statues; a 128m tall Chinese Buddha simply dwarfs the 46m Statue of Liberty.

The Empire State Building is 443.2m high, The Eiffel Tower is 324m, these are cultural icons that are not religious, and as such are nearer the Tuscan towers’ in meaning and intent — mainly showing off, but also for broadening horizons.

The commerce and the wealth behind the towers of Tuscany and the skyscrapers of New York show that you are financially successful if you can see far ahead, see things coming, know when change is imminent, being able to see your enemies approach.  This elevated, lofty position — like the gods on Mount Olympus — shows a physical rise above peers to rival the career path rise.

I often wonder why these days governments stay so low to the ground.  It cannot be about the Twin Towers.  The White House is far from being a tower.  Number Ten Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and many others are not even up on hills.

Towers and tall structures these days are for tourists, capitalists and a  few others who like to expand their horizons.


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