Discover Pisa
Italian museum town

The Leaning Tower, medieval temples and priceless paintings

Districts of Pisa

Pisa is a small tourist city, any part of which offers fascinating sights. If you want to see the main ones in one day, go to Piazza dei Miracoli. The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and the cathedral, the cemetery of Campo Santo, and the baptistery are located here.

Population

According to the 2008 data, more than 80 thousand people live in the city. Most of the townspeople are Italians by nationality. The city also has natives of Germany, Slovenia, Albania, Greece, and France.

Brief history

The first inhabitants of these lands were the ancient tribes of Ligures, who lived here in the I - II millennium BC. In 180, the settlement became a colony of the Roman Empire with an important seaport. In the VI century, Pisa got its fleet, which included merchant and military ships. It comes to the aid of Pope Gregory I in his war with Byzantium. The city quickly grew rich in the maritime trade, in which all the famous families and even the Viscount of Pisa took part.

In the first half of the XI century, the city formed a state called the Republic of Pisa. Its inhabitants successfully attacked the Saracens, the Arab settlements in Sicily, and captured Carthage in 1035. A little later, the troops of Pisa conquered the rich city of Palermo, completely ruining it. Pisa became one of the most powerful maritime powers in Europe.

The period of the XI - XIII centuries fell on the city's heyday. It developed art and architecture. Pisa's own distinctive architectural style appeared — a combination of Byzantine, Arabic, and Romanesque styles. They built cathedrals, baptisteries, and rich castles. In 1173, the construction of the Tower of Pisa began.

The city gradually declined at the end of the XIII century. This was due to the defeat of Pisa in the war with the Genoese and the silting of the Arno River. The city lost its maritime status, and its port fell into disrepair.

The XV century was the beginning of the reign of Florentine families in Pisa. The Medici family was one of the most famous.

Pisa is the birthplace of Galileo Galilei, who was born here in 1564. The great scientist of the time taught at the University of Pisa, founded back in the XI century.

The main attraction of Pisa — the falling tower — was repeatedly reinforced to keep it in its original form. In 2001, the next work was completed. After that, the scientists assured us that the tower would definitely last for the next 200 years.

Pisa is a city that remembers its former greatness and carefully preserves its monuments of history, attracting tourists with the extraordinary charm of antiquity and numerous picturesque places.

The best time to visit Pisa

The city lives in a Mediterranean climate. Winters are warm, with an average temperature of +6ºC ... +10ºC. Sometimes it cools down to +2ºC ... -3ºC. Summers are hot and dry with an average temperature of +20°C ... +25°C. The average temperature often reaches +30°C ... +33°C. April and September-October are rainy seasons. Pisa is beautiful at any time of year, but it's better to refrain from visiting in summer if you can't stand the heat.

Come to Pisa in mid-June if you want to admire the city in fantastic lights during the feast of St. Rainerius. Regattas with ancient ships, parades of historical costumes, and festive fairs are held annually on these days. But the most magical spectacle comes in the evening: lit candles are placed in all the city's streets, squares, and buildings. The Leaning Tower, decorated with burning candles, looks especially fantastic.

Fans of historical re-enactments gather for the "Gioco del Ponte" festival in June. A parade takes place across the Ponte di Mezzo bridge, with participants displaying Medieval costumes. Then you can watch the games of knights and drag wagons, and take part in many entertainment activities.

Useful notes

Things to do in Pisa

  • See the world-famous Tower of Pisa. The Leaning Tower is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Pisa, which began to be built in the XII century. Interestingly, this is the only bell tower that is quite far from the temple. You can see Muslim motifs in its architecture, thanks to which it is possible to detect a resemblance to the minarets. There are several reasons for the tower's sagging: one is the clay soil underneath it, and the other is due to errors in the design of the building. The tower deflection from the axis is more than 5º, but because of the location of the center of gravity above the foundation, the snow-white bell tower continues to stand.
  • Marvel at the beautiful Cathedral. Its monumental building is the pearl of the Piazza dei Miracoli. The start of its construction dates back to the XI century. The magnificent Pisan Romanesque style is clearly visible in its architecture. The facade with elegant columns in the upper part is made of white marble and gray stone. Visitors can spend hours examining the interior of the cathedral. The black and white marble patterns, the incredibly beautiful mosaics in the aisle, the dome with frescoes, and the exquisitely carved pulpit are priceless masterpieces of medieval art.
  • Appreciate the splendor of the largest baptistery in the country. Despite its monumentality, the building seems quite light. All this is thanks to the wonderful white marble that was used for its construction. Construction of the baptistery began in the XII century and lasted for 200 years. That was the reason for the incredibly harmonious fusion of the two architectural styles in the appearance of the building. Its lower part with semi-circular arches is a vivid example of Romanesque style, while the upper part with the arches flying upwards is Gothic. The interior decoration of the baptistery is rather restrained. One should pay attention to the octagonal fountain in the center of the baptistery, which is almost 800 years old.
  • Visit the unique memorial cemetery of Campo Santo. The XIII-century necropolis consists of an arched gallery with burials and three chapels. The main attraction of the ancient cemetery is the priceless frescoes, many of which were executed in the XIV century.
  • Admire the facade of the Palazzo della Carovana. The building was constructed in the XVI century as the home of the Knights of the Tuscan Order, who fought against the Saracens. The famous architect Vasari designed the façade. It is made in a unique sgraffito technique, which is quite rare. It features allegorical figures and zodiac signs.
  • Come to admire the view of the elegant Gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina. The extraordinarily refined small temple is a real decoration of Pisa. The church façade is fascinating with its many fine details and magnificent adornment. It is decorated with statues of Christ, Madonna and Child, and saints. The church's design is successfully complemented by beautiful rose windows and openwork decorative elements created by the masters of antiquity.
  • Dive into the culture of the Middle Ages in the Museum of San Matteo. Its expositions are located in the ancient monastery and present visitors with unique works of masters of the XII-XVII centuries. There are paintings, sculptures, and medieval manuscripts. The main decoration of the museum is the bust of San Rossore by the great Donatello.
  • Explore the masterpieces of art in the charming Palazzo Blu Museum. The majestic mansion of the XIV century is painted in an unusual blue color, which explains its name. Even before 2001, it belonged to the noble Giuli family of Pisa. Now you can see paintings and sculptures by world-famous masters such as Jean-Baptiste Demare, Fortunato Bellonzi, Vincenzo Foppa, Umberto Vittorini, and Taddeo di Bartolo.
  • Spend a day in the oldest botanical garden in the world. City Botanical Garden, founded in the XVI century, belongs to the University. It is home to more than 550 plant species from around the planet. We invite you to take a walk in the shade of centuries-old trees and visit the interesting Botanical Museum, greenhouses with exotic plants, and the Arboretum.
  • Check out the picturesque city markets. You can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, local culinary delicacies, and luxurious flowers at the Mercato delle Vettovaglie. If you're looking for authentic souvenirs, antique jewelry, and books, you can visit the antique market in Piazza dei Cavalieri.
  • Try the national dishes of Tuscany. They are quite simple but incredibly delicious. If you want to discover the food traditions of the Pisans, order Pappardelle alla lepre (wide pasta with wild rabbit, boar, or deer sauce stewed in red wine), Pappa col pomodoro (thick soup made of tomatoes, olive oil, bread, garlic, and spices). For dessert, try Castagnaccio (an airy chestnut flour cake decorated with pine nuts) or Cantuccini (almond cookies with pine nuts served with dessert wine). Don't forget to order a bottle of one of Tuscany's amazing wines — Chianti classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, or Bolgheri rosato.

Map Pisa

Hotels in Pisa

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