A Day in Pisa

Posted By: alessandra on April, 10 2014 in About Italy, Culture, History, Itineraries, Leisure, Pisa (Tuscany), To see
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Torre-di-Pisa1The city of Pisa is mostly famous because of its Leaning Tower, but they are other things to see in this antic Maritime Republic. In the following lines we propose you a tour to visit in one day the longtime rival of Florence.

Few people know that the famous Tower, which construction began in 1173, was aimed to be the campanile (a freestanding bell tower) of the adjacent Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta. It began to tilt while it wasn’t even finished because of the sandy soil making its base unstable. These edifices situated on the Piazza del Duomo (renamed Piazza dei Miracoli by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio) together with the Baptistery and the Camposanto (a 1278-cemetery) are unfortunately among the last medieval monuments of Pisa. Indeed, the city suffered a lot from the Allied and German bombings at the end of World War Two.

You should take a least two hours to walk around this green meadow and admire the whole compound declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. If you want to get in the Tower for a 30-min-visit, we advise you to book your tickets in advance because queuing is always quite long. It could also be convenient to buy a ticket to visit more monuments.

To book your tickets:  http://www.aboutpisa.info/pisa-tower-tickets.html

On this same square you can also find the Opera del Duomo Museum which hosts the cathedral treasure and other objects removed from the sacred place for preservation, and the Sinopie Museum, containing the Camposanto previous fresco paintings.

On your way back to the center, you could stop to the world oldest Botanical Garden belonging to the University of Pisa, which was created in 1543. Then follow the via dei Mille toward Piazza dei Cavalieri, the most famous square of Pisa after Piazza del Duomo and which was the heart of the city political life during Middle-Age. Different buildings stand there; among these is the Palazzo dell’Orologio. This palace formerly had a tower which got famous because of the incarceration of the Count Ugolino della Gherardesca along with his children and grandchildren who were all left starving to death in the 13th century. Dante mentioned the tragic story in his Divine Comedy and made the Count a character of the Inferno.

Continue then on the via Ulisse Dini where you’ll see a statue of the mathematician and senator born in the city. You will then arrive on the Piazza delle Vettovaglie hosting a nice market every morning. At the end of via Dini is Borgo Stretto, the commercial street of Pisa in which you could do some shopping among the numerous businesses. Don’t forget to stop by the San Michele in Borgo church, its frontage is a mix of roman and gothic styles.

After your shopping break, we suggest you to go to the Piazza San Matteo in Soarta where is situated the principal city museum for painting and sculpting: the San Matteo National Museum. In addition to the archeological and ceramic departments, this museum hosts an important collection of medieval art which would deserve to be more renowned.

Take some fresh air walking by the Arno river until you get to Piazza Carrara and the Palazzo Reale National Museum which contains all the private collections given to the city (textiles, ceramics, paintings, engravings, statues…). Then, cross the Solferino Bridge and pass ahead of the little Santa Maria della Spina church. It was constructed in 1300 and its name comes from the thorn it preserved which would have come from the Christ Crown during the Crucifixion. This relic is now safeguarded by the Santa Chiara church.

Finally, we suggest you to follow the Arno in the direction of the Giardino di Scotto where you could rest for a while on the grass and admire the old walls of the citadel.
The city of Pisa was lucky enough to host the last painting of the famous American artist, Keith Haring, in 1989. On this great mural called Tuttomondo, the intersecting characters represent the peace and harmony of the world. To admire this masterpiece, go to the Sant’Antonio Abate church, near the central station.

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