In Defense of Tacky Tourist Photos

Courtesy Kaeli Conforti
My sister, April, holding the leaning tower of Pisa

There are two types of people in the world: those who can walk by a life–like statue of a pirate without taking a goofy picture with it, and those who can't. I decidedly fall in the latter category, whether it's a six–foot tall statue of an Italian pizza–maker with a crazy mustache in New York City's West Village or a life–sized replica statue of Fidel Castro standing in front of a cigar store in Cozumel. In fact, silly tourist photos are one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. And don't get me started on the leaning tower of Pisa.

When my family traveled through Italy this summer working our way from Venice to Rome, we knew we had to stop by Pisa and take an iconic silly photo or two (or ten) of us trying to hold up the leaning tower. It was my father's first trip to Europe, let alone Italy, and he said he'd always wanted to do that since he was a kid, so we made time one afternoon as we traveled from the Cinque Terre area to Florence. From the Pisa Centrale train station, it's a leisurely 20 to 30 minute walk through Pisa and over the scenic Ponte Solferino bridge to the Campo dei Miracoli, a beautiful Piazza home to the Pisa Cathedral, Baptistry, and of course, the leaning tower.

When we entered the Piazza, it was packed! You would not believe how many people probably just stopped by for a silly photo opportunity—us included. We quickly noticed that the side farthest away from the Tower was the most crowded because it was the best angle if you want to get that perfect shot of holding up the tower or, like we spotted some tourists doing, pushing it over. It was hilarious seeing the lengths some people would go to for the perfect angle—some climbed steps and poles to elevate themselves, others lay on the ground and held it up with their feet.

What about you? Has the opportunity for the perfect silly travel photo ever crossed your path, leaving you helpless to resist it? It's not just us, I promise—check out this blog post I wrote last year about an entire website dedicated to those who appreciate and strive to take the world's tackiest tourist photos.


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