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Leaving to one side the celebrated inclination - that daring challenge to the laws of statics - the bell tower of the Cathedral is a unique building of its kind, both for its great art historical value and for its peculiar situation, in the context of the vast and similarly unique area known as Piazza dei Miracoli. The Tower occupies a site to one side of the Cathedral, between the apsidal area and the south-eastern portion of the transept of the latter. Though not an isolated case (similar spatial organisations can be found in some Pisan complexes and in other Italian buildings), this is an unusual collocation: normally, bell towers were built near to the façade or along one side of churches.
Here, however, the Tower assumes an unusual value through its dislocation from the other monuments in the area of Piazza dei Miracoli. The building is in fact sited in one of the most visible points of the Piazza, in correspondence with the junction between the latter and via Santa Maria, one of the antique thoroughfares of the city. Originally, a road which followed the course of via Emilia passed to the left of the Tower.

I think the hyphens you see in the first sentence of the above in not essential. What do you think?
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They are essential because they are demarking a clause that interrupts the flow of the sentence to make a point "on the side":

Once again, the subject of hyphens - those crazy little things - has come up to beguile forum readers.
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Andrei,
Those are "dashes", not "hyphens". Emotion: smile
They have a function similar to that of parentheses, but the use of dashes tend to give a somwehat more dramatic and informal impression.