Italy’s largest baptistery (104m/341 ft. in circumference), begun in 1153 and capped with a Gothic dome in the 1300s, is built on the same unstable soil as the Leaning Tower. The first thing you will notice is a decided tilt—not nearly as severe as that of the tower, but the round structure leans noticeably towards the cathedral. The unadorned interior is considered to be where the Renaissance, with its emphasis on classical style and humanism, began to flower, in the pulpit created by Nicola Pisano (1255–60). The sculptor had studied sarcophagi and other ancient Roman works that the Pisan navy had brought back from Rome as booty, and the classic influence is obvious, nowhere more so than in the presence of a nude Hercules standing next to statues of St. Michael and St. John the Baptist. In scenes of the life of Christ, figures wear tunics and Mary wears the headdress of a Roman matron. If the baptistery is not too crowded, stand near the middle and utter something loudly; the sound will reverberate for quite awhile, thanks to the structure’s renowned acoustics.