Wandering Through the Medieval Beauty of Pisa
Straddling the river Arno in the Tuscany region of Central Italy is a city beautifully studded with historic churches and medieval palaces. Home to the world renowned leaning tower, Pisa is a dream land for adventurers and travelers from all around the world. Beside the iconic tower, Pisa also nests the University of Pisa, which has a history that dates back to as far as the 12th century. A visit to Pisa definitely promises to charm the traveller with its exquisite concoction of historic and modern times.
WHAT DOES THE HISTORY SAY?
About the City : Although the origin of the city of Pisa has remained unknown, its founding has been accredited to the Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Ligurians. The city of Pisa was first settled in a region of Italy that was relatively uninhabited at the time. Of course, Italy wasn’t around then and Pisa was a Roman settlement. As a coastal town, Pisa was an important Roman port and merchant centre. It existed long before the Roman Empire though, and in ancient Roman texts, Pisa is called an old city.
The city of Pisa, as we know it today, is a result of many global influences that affected the entire world, not just Italy and the surrounding areas. World War II took its toll on the city, damaging many of the famous buildings and historical areas. However, both residents of the city of Pisa and Italy itself have beautifully resorted Pisa to a state that is modern and functional, as well as historic.
About the Leaning Tower : The Tower of Pisa leans sideways because it was built on unstable soil. In 1173 construction started on the 180-foot bell tower and the building began to lean as soon as the first three floors were completed. Nevertheless, building continued to lean a little bit more each year and was closed for repairs in 1990, when it was leaning fourteen and one-half feet to one side. Engineers worked to stabilize the foundation, straightening the tower only slightly to help prevent irreparable damage without taking away the uniqueness of the structure.
GOURMET’S LOVE : ITALIAN CUISINE
The cuisine in Pisa offers a variety of dishes without losing any of the delectable taste. Mushrooms are an important ingredient in the preparation of these dishes. Some areas will offer you their special soups, known as Sullo Scio, whereas other ones will offer you the richness of seafood. Chickpeas or leeks are trendy, served with sweet-n-sour sauce or an onion and tomato sauce. Some other foodie attractions may include the base ingredient to be Pisan Lamb, calf, beef, duck, hare and pig seasoned with spices and sauces.
Also the pasta dishes are the topmost popularity among the natives as well as tourists. Not to forget about the flourishing wine-making industries that guarantees to be from a specific area. Desserts are mostly pastry based tarts filled with rice cooked in milk with dry-fruits.
Recommendation: Canapé with chicken liver, truffle or pheasant sauce; soups; Panzanella; Pappardelle Pasta Dish; Vin Santo Wine.
CULTURE & LIFESTYLE
The best way to learn local ethnic culture and traditions is to participate in the unique ethnic fests. A bright and exciting holiday is the Palio di San Ranieri which is held on 17th of June. The holiday is dedicated to the main patron saint of the city. The main events of the holiday take part in the Arno area. On the festive day all the churches, cathedrals and temples of the city are decorated with a specially chosen system of illumination. Nice lanterns and lamps can be seen on the houses of local folks as well. The Tower of Pisa being the main symbol of the city gets its luxurious illuminating decoration too.
Recommendation: San Ranieri Historical Ragatta (17th June), Gioco Del Ponte (last Sunday of June).
LINKING LANES: MEANS OF TRAVELLING AND TRANSPORTATION
You can get around in Pisa by foot and also by public transport that comprises Local Bus Service (there is a small bus station in front of the railway station that many of the local bus routes radiate out from, including to close by the leaning tower of Pisa), Pisa Railway Station (Lines serving the station include three long-distance lines: the Pisa–Livorno–Rome line, the Pisa–La Spezia–Genoa line and the Pisa–Florence line which connects to express trains to Venice. There is also a direct link for the short journey to Pisa Airport), Pisa Hop On-Hop Off Tourist Bus (sightseeing bus that departs from the small bus station in front of the railway station between April and October). Distance between the railway station and the Leaning Tower of Pisa can be covered by foot in about 20 minutes.
THINGS TO DO : SUGGESTIONS
- Climb to the top of the Leaning Tower.
- Marvel at the acoustics of the Baptistery.
- Stroll along the River Arno.
- Explore the city’s peaceful parks and gardens.
- Spot Mussolini in the frescoes at the 11th-century San Francesco Church.
- Take a trip to the nearby ancient city of Lucca with its cobbled streets and Renaissance- era city walls.
- Dine on fine Tuscan dishes including boar stew and suckling pig, washed down with local Chianti.
- Browse the exclusive boutiques of the Borgo Stretto, and then stop for an espresso in one of its many cafés.
- Treat yourself to a slice of pizza at Il Montino, Pisa’s original pizzeria.
- Discover Pisa’s medieval art treasures at the San Matteo National Museum.
PUBLIC SQUARES IN PISA:
Piazza dei Miracoli: Known as the Square of Miracles in English, this complex is a walled 8.87 hectare area in the city of Pisa which has been acclaimed as one of the finest architectural complexes in the world. Formally known as Piazza del Duomo (English: Cathedral Square), it is deemed sacred by the Catholic Church and is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistery, the Campanile, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). In 1987, the whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Piazza dei Cavalieri: The Knights’ Square, as it is called in English, is the second main square of the city of Pisa. In medieval times, it was the political centre of the city. Following the mid-16th century, the square turned into a headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Today the square is a centre of education, being the main house of the Scuola Normale di Pisa, an institute of higher learning, which is also a part of the University of Pisa.
Best Area to Stay in Pisa:
You would like to stay within the old city walls, away from the railway station and the tourist- thick Piazza dei Miracoli. Also, Central Pisa is a fairly tiny area. It would take you just about twenty minutes to walk across the entire area.