Between 26 April and 28 June 1936, Escher took a round trip by freighter along the shores of Italy and Spain. He also travelled inland by train. His wife Jetta accompanied him on a section of this trip. The couple enjoyed themselves immensely. They had moved to Switzerland the year before and were missing Italy terribly. On 13 June, Escher arrived in Livorno by freighter. Jetta had travelled back the day before.
From his travel journal:
‘At 10.10 I journeyed to Pisa by train. From the Piazza Vittorio I took the trolleybus-cum-tram to the station, the same model as I saw running back and forth between Venice Mestre—a very pleasant and fast connection. In Pisa by 10.30 and then on to the Duomo by tram. From the first gallery of the Leaning Tower I did a drawing of the cathedral, on which I worked constantly until 3.30. At the station I ate something hurriedly and took the train back to Livorno at 4.18.’
In the autumn Escher started turning his drawings into prints. He produced woodcuts of Venice and Ancona and the freighter on which he travelled, he produced wood engravings of Catania and Marseille, and he produced a lithograph of Nunziata in Sicily. In January 1937 he made a woodcut of the famous Leaning Tower. The campanile is usually shown from the outside, but his ascent to the first gallery provided Escher with an interesting viewpoint. The leaning columns of the tower contrast nicely with the straight ones of the Duomo.
Read more about this round trip and how Escher ended up taking it in the story Cargo ship.