Pisa – much more than just the Leaning Tower

It is unusual to think of Pisa without relating it to the internationally famous monument The Leaning Tower. In this article you will see that Pisa is not just that.

The province of Pisa is located in central-western Tuscany, on the right bank of river Arno, covering a large area of shoreline, extensive valleys, and rolling mountains including the Colline Metallifere to the South. 
The coastline is presented by wide beaches enclosed in high dunes and fresh pines, and accommodates renowned tourist resorts such as Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia. 

When you happen to be in this region, on a business trip or a leisure trip, on a customized vacation or a guided tour, your vacation always includes Pisa – a top European destination.  

The Leaning Tower 

A symbol of Pisa because of its characteristic incline, the Tower is the most famous monument in Piazza del Duomo. The Tower of Pisa, (known as the Leaning Tower) is simply the bell tower of the cathedral and is located just behind it. Built between XII and XIV century, the tower leans because the soil has already ceded in the first phases of construction and since then has remained that way. Even if it provokes a feeling of fear, there is no risk entering inside. Scientists assure us that the vertical axis that passes through its center of gravity falls into the base of the pillar. This is the reason for which, unless the physical law overturns, the tower will never fall. In the past the solutions adopted to stop the incline failed and in 1998 alone there were positive results thanks to the removal of a part of the land in the north to create a counter-balance. The incline stopped at approximately 4 meters against the 5 meters passed. The Tower of Pisa has been recommended as one of the seven wonders of the contemporary world.  

Il Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta 

The Cathedral of Pisa, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, is a tangible witness to the prestige of the Marine Republic that reached the time of its maximum splendor. Its construction began in 1064, in conjunction with the reconstruction of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. Most likely between the two cities started an unspoken competition on the creation of the most beautiful and sumptuous place of worship. The present appearance of the Duomo is a result of continuous restoration. The Cathedral (Duomo) has a structure with five naves, and a transept with three naves. The external facade with four columns in gray marble, colored with white stones, through a series of inscriptions on the facade tells the story of the monument from its construction. On the top is the statue of the Madonna with Child, with the statues of the four evangelists on the sides. 

Inside the Cathedral works of different epochs coexist in full harmony.  68 columns are in classic style, the coating is white and black marble. The ceiling was restored in 1595 after a fire that destroyed many medieval works. Among the various decorations survived the fire, is the altar, surrounded by a wonderful mosaic of the “Majesty of Christ” created by Cimabue in 1302.

Inside you can also admire the famous chandelier, which swinging gave the idea of Galileo Galilei for his theory of isochronism. In reality, the lamp that inspired the famous scientist is not the current, but a smaller one that could oscillate in the wind. Just imagine what big inventions the genius could create only watching small objects.

Il Battistero (The Baptistery)

Il Battistero is another of the buildings that forms the monumental complex on the Piazza del Duomo (the Square of Miracles). Il Battistero, dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, is a stunning white building, located in front of the west façade of Duomo. The construction of the Battistero began in the middle of the XII century and was completed only in the XIV century.

With all their masterpieces, the painters indicated that their Creator was one of the major precursors of the Renaissance. The building is a high and wide construction of an uncommon circular shape, an example of the transition from roman to gothic style. The external dome covers only the internal circle of the pillars and the lack of frescoes on the ceiling provided in the original project is noticeable. Despite that, Il Battistero is the largest baptistery in Italy. The circumference is more than 107 meters (355 ft.). 

The interior is free of decorations, but has excellent acoustics where the famous echo in the building comes from. This suggestive and spiritual echo amazes the visitors. Any voice could sound as a famous singer’s there. Inside, we see a beautiful pulpit carved and an octagonal baptismal spring in white marble. 

La Piazza dei Miracoli (The Square of Miracles)

Known as “Piazza del Duomo” it has been an area of worship since the time of the Etruscans, constituting the religious center and comprising buildings which emerged between eleventh and fourteenth century. In the square the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the attached Bell Tower (the Leaning Tower), Il Battistero and a monumental cemetery are situated. The Piazza dei Miracoli has one of the most extraordinary concentrations of Romanesque splendor in the world. Partly paved with a part in green lawn, it is unique in its kind, and was recognized in 1987 as UNESCO World Heritage site.

In this square the emissary of Florence proclaimed the end of the independence of Pisa in 1406.

I Lungarni di Pisa 

Pisa is also known for its magnificent Lungarni – the streets on the banks of the river Arno. The Lungarni are both a meeting place for the young residents of Pisa and an interesting location for the million tourists visiting Pisa every year. They host important buildings, dating from the middle ages, which have been transformed in the course of the centuries. It is difficult to decide which Lungarno is most beautiful. Although towers, palaces, churches, and bridges assume a renaissance appearance, the strength of medieval origins does not escape to the sense of the observant tourist.

Among the numerous Lungarni, the most well-known is the one where the greatest historical buildings of the city are located, such as the Medici Palace, the Palazzo Toscanelli and the Church of San Matteo in Soarta. Here you will also discover numerous restaurants and bars where to spend memorable evenings, tasting the delicious Italian cuisine and excellent wines. Every year, on June 16 – the celebration of the patron saint, the Luminara of San Ranieri is held. The Lungarni are illuminated with little flames that intensify the silhouettes of all buildings, creating charming scenes of lights and colors.

The Lungarni are especially beautiful at dusk and during the night, illuminated by many small lights that are reflected in the water.

Palazzo dei Medici 

The family Medici ruled Pisa in 1392-1398. The Palace was the oldest house of the Medici in Pisa, enlarged and restored by Cosimo de’ Medici. The building had a big restoration in 1879 when the shape of the palace was completely changed.

No trip in Tuscany is complete without visiting Pisa and not only because of the Leaning Tower, as this article convinced us. 


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