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Town with ancient origins, it was a Roman settlement and marine
republic during the Middle Ages. Now it is the capital of the
Province of Pisa, in central Italy in Tuscany. It is an
industrial center and an important cultural art city. The city
lies on the alluvial plain of the Arno River, about 6 miles (10
km) from the Ligurian Sea and 50 miles (80 km) west of Florence.
Visitors to Pisa tend to concentrate on the area around the
Cathedral which houses Europe’s greatest group of Romanesque
buildings. The group of buildings so scenically set in the
Piazza del Duomo of Pisa leave the visitor with an impression in
part real and in part surreal, like a fairy tale, due first and
foremost, to the striking contrast of the white marble with the
green lawn and blue sky.
Pisa must see sights:
The Duomo (1063), an
imposing white building in Romanesque style and Lombard
abside emerging in the area called “Campo dei Miracoli”
(Field of Miracles) with a richly decorated façade with
sculptures and marble inlay. The magnificent marble pulpit
by Giovanni Pisano ( 1302 – 1311) is the most important work
of art. It has nine panels illustrating stories from the New
Testament and is largely composed of allegorical figures
representing the virtues and credos of the Catholic faith.
Inside the Duomo are other valuable works by Giambologna,
Andrea del Sarto, Ghirlandaio, Sodoma, etc.
The Baptistery (12th -
14th C ), a majestic Romanesque building in white marble,
with an eight-sided pyramidal cupola and fine portals. The
order of small arches which surrounds the Baptistery is
decorated with faces and sculptures said to be by Nicola and
Giovanni Pisano and is considered among the Baptistery’s most
important works. Inside is the baptismal font , the altar,
and the “Pergamo”, excellent masterpiece dating back to the
13th C by Nicola Pisano.
Next to the Duomo is the
“Leaning Tower”, the symbol of the city, with beautiful
architectural lines. Built in the 13th C in a cylindrical
shape it has a spiral staircase with 294 steps to the top of
the tower (55 m), from which visitors can enjoy a beautiful
view over the whole town of Pisa.
The “Camposanto” (14th
C), for centuries was the burial ground for illustrious
people and most prominent figures, it houses remarkable
funerary monuments, sarcophaguses, sculptures and frescoes.
They include works by Veneziano, Taddeo Gaddi, Benozzo
- Since 1987, the group of monuments of Piazza del Duomo di
Pisa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Noteworthy are other churches such as:
Santa Caterina(14th C)
with a Gothic facade from 1330 and frescoed interiors.
Santa Maria della Spina is a
remarkable tiny church along the Arno River. The church is
Pisa's finest example of Gothic architecture.
San Francesco, rich
San Pierino with a
richly decorated façade and interesting crypt.
San Frediano with
San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno
with a fine 13th C façade, valuable frescoes and the
adjacent Romanesque “Cappella di Sant’Agata”.
San Michele in Borgo
with bas- reliefs, frescoes, paintings and crypt.
To complete the tourist appeal of Pisa, the ancient
University and the rich museums among which the “Museo Nazionale di San Matteo” has several permanent collections
of Pisan art through the ages, covering painting from the
12th to the 15th centuries, medieval ceramics and sculpture
from the 14th and 15th centuries. Of note, is the “Madonna
and Child with Saints”, a polytriptich by Simone Martini.
Other works by Gentile da Fabriano, Masaccio and Beato
The Museum of the
The “Opera del Duomo”
museum, that preserves a huge collection of artworks. Thanks
to more than 100 works of art – paintings, sculptures,
illuminated books and applied arts – the exhibition offers
an impressive overview of the artistic scene of 13th century
Pisa and gives a vivid idea of the economic and cultural
richness of this powerful city.
The black and white richly decorated
Palazzo dei Cavalieri
designed by Vasari in 1562.
Worthy of note are the “Logge dei banchi” a 17th C
colonnade, The “Palazzo dell’Orologio”, in which tower Count
Ugolino Della Gherardesca was imprisoned, recounted by Dante
in his Inferno.
Pisa is still renowned for its University.
- Elsewhere in Pisa you can wander peaceful streets, admire
the town's palazzi and university buildings, shop in the
market areas, and admire bridges and churches.
To these treasures we can add the Certosa of Pisa, at Calci
(10 km from Pisa) and the Basilica of San Piero a Grado (5
Km from Pisa), obligatory stop for lovers of Romanesque art.
One of the major green areas of the province of Pisa is the
regional Park of Migliarino and San Rossore, which also
includes the area of Lake Massaciuccoli in the province of
Lucca. An interesting area in the Pisan portion of the park
is the wood of Tombolo, which was added to the pre-existing
estates of Migliarino and San Rossore. Also very interesting
is the fauna of the interior, which includes fallow deer,
wild boar, squirrels, dormice, foxes and porcupines.
Events: Every year on the night of 16th of June the
enchantment of the Illuminations of Saint Ranieri is renewed
on the streets running along the lungarni (banks of the Arno
River), the architectural details of the palaces, windows,
cornices, balconies, the rails lining the river and all the
bridges glow in the reflected light of over 70,000 lumini
(small glass lamps burning oil or wax) while thousands of
lighted candles float on the waters of the Arno.
(lighted sham architectural constructions) and a firework
spectacle at the Cittadella Vecchia finish the show. The
annual luminara dates back to 1688 and marks the anniversary
of the placement of S. Ranieri's remains inside of the Duomo
On the following Sunday the Regatta di S. Ranieri. Crew in vessels
representing the four historical quarters of the city S.
Maria, S. Francesco, S. Antonio, and S. Martino - will row a
1500 meter upstream course to a boat moored in mid-river.
Once there, four montatori, one "climber" from each crew,
will scramble up a pole to seize the banner or palio flying
from the top. The specific features of the today's Regatta
began to be defined in 1737, but similar events have been
held in Pisa since the 13th century.
Last Sunday of June:
Gioco del Ponte (Game of the bridge) a
contest in which teams of the town's four quarters try to
push a rail-mounted seven-ton trolley off the main bridge
and into the other team's territory. It's all very
ritualized (and usually bloodless) now, but this is another
of Pisa's ancient traditions, and, more than any other, it
arouses the spirits of the locals.
Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei is very near to
the city center, only 2 km., and has domestic and international
flights. Rome, Milan, Cagliari, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bruxelles, London Gatwick
and Stansted, Madrid, Frankfurt Hahn, Munich and Paris
Charles De Gaulle are some of the Italian and the European
airports with direct flights to Pisa.
The terminal is directly connected to Pisa Railway Central
Station and thence to the Italian railway network. Direct
railway lines connect the Airport to Florence, Pontedera,
Empoli, Lucca, Pistoia and Montecatini. At the Florence Santa
Maria Novella Railway Station you can check in for all
flights departing from Pisa Airport.
Driving distances from Pisa in Km: Bari 800 - Bologne 180 - Arezzo 1507 – Chianti 80 - Florence
81 - Genoa 160 - Grosseto 150 - Leghorn 20 - Milan 285 -
Rome 330- San Gimignano 75 - Siena 142 - Venice 340