After arriving in Pisa from Leghorn on the morning of March 23, Melville left that city for Florence that same afternoon. His journal for that day recorded five sites that caught his eye and imagination during his short time in Pisa. Four of them were bunched closely together. He “walked at once to the Duomo,” the city’s celebrated Cathedral, discovering that “one end of it looks like coral grottoes in sea,” as seen by “pearl diver.” Next was the Baptistery, "like dome set on ground. Wonderful pulpit of marble.” Next he registered the “Campanile,” the famous leaning tower of Pisa, looking “like pine poised just ere snapping. . . . It will move altogether if it move at all, for Pillars all move with it. . . . You wait to hear the crash.” Finally came the “Campo Santa,” the burial ground, with its “beauty of bowered walks of stone.” As an ensemble, “the four monuments stand in common,” surrounded by springtime grass. “Come upon them as upon bouquet of architecture” (NN J 113-14).
If Melville wanted to refresh his eye as to the actual look of these building later in life, he had excellent images of all of them in Baxter’s The Renaissance of Art in Italy that he acquired sometime after 1883. Three of the four buildings appear in one composite image (fig. 1 below). In their dates of completion, the Baptistery to the left (A.D. 1153) was preceded by the Cathedral in the center (A.D. 1063) and followed by the Campanile leaning to the right (A.D. 1174).