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PISA - The town of the leaning Tower

According to legend, Pisa was founded by the Trojan refugees from the homonymous Greek city placed in the valley of the river Alpheus, in the Peloponnese. Ancient Maritime Republic, rival of Genoa and Venice, Pisa was born and raised along the creeks of the Arno, which make impressive views of the river and the Grand Duchy era of majestic buildings which are reflected in the waters. The heart of the city is Piazza dei Miracoli, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the most important monuments of the city (the Duomo, Baptistery, Monumental Cemetery and the Leaning Tower) set for their beauty and originality “miracles “by Gabriele d'Annunzio. The presence of another illustrious personality hovers in the city: that of Galileo Galilei. And they are in fact many places in the city that you can visit on the trail of the scientist, from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where Galileo he performed his experiment . Pisa is still today a center of excellence in research with its prestigious university founded in 1343, and the Scuola Normale Superiore, commissioned by Napoleon at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, the National Research Council (CNR). All of these make Pisa a young city, attended by students from all over Italy and characterized by a sparkling nightlife and always changing. And if the green meadows of Piazza dei Miracoli, where you recline the masterpieces of Romanesque architecture, there is always a great coming and going of tourists in search of the most original souvenir of the Tower, Pisa, where there is also a modern attractions are: how the Tuttomondo mural, the last work in Europe by American artist Keith Haring, on the wall of the Convent of St. Anthony, or the fountain of the station, by the famous sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.




The Piazza del Duomo is the most important artistic and tourist center of Pisa. Enlisted among the World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987, you can admire the monuments that form the center of religious life, such miracles (Gabriele d'Annunzio) for their beauty and originality: the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Campo Santo, and the Bell Tower, from which the popular name of Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of miracles) which later spread in the post-war era of mass tourism. It is a unique case in the context of contemporary Italian architecture: a set of white and refined architecture, which stand out against the green of the grass more famous in the world. The wide availability of clear marbles - from nearby quarries - along with frequent contacts with the Greek and Islamic art have produced the typical chromatic particularly bright, which spread not only inland, but also in areas where it was more or less direct the Pisan influence, such as Puglia, Sardinia and Corsica. The individual monuments - the cathedral, the Leaning Tower, the baptistery, the cemetery - develop in an extremely complex organic and uniform, where it becomes the dominant theme of the columns surmounted by pointed arches, equally interpreted by the different buildings in the square. The location of individual monuments respond to a precise design, derived from the particular astrological symbolism tied to the three stars of the constellation of Aries, in which the city of Pisa wanted to refer.



The construction of the most famous tower in the world, leaning due to subsidence of the land - that have already occurred under construction - was begun in 1173 by the architect-sculptor probably Bonanno Pisano and continued for about two centuries, in accordance with the original project.

The Campanile or Leaning Tower, is known throughout the world for the beauty of the architectural structure and the unique slope that makes it a true miracle of static. Begun in August 1173 (1174 according to the computation of Pisa), as documented by a subscriber to the right of the entrance, was interrupted in the middle of the third floor because of a land subsidence occurred. The authorship of this first phase of work, given by Giorgio Vasari in Bonanno and already accredited by the discovery near a tombstone with his name (now walled up in the lobby of the tower), it is entirely hypothetical: Recent studies report about it to the project Gherardo di Gherardo. The work in 1275, to which took part Giovanni di Simone and Giovanni Pisano, resumed with the addition of three other floors according to a line that tends to curl in the opposite direction to the slope, in an attempt to correct the inclination, in the second half of the Three hundred, perhaps by Tommaso Pisano (1350-1372) was added to the belfry. A circular covered entirely in white marble, the Tower has a decorative party similar to that of the apse of the Cathedral: above a first order of blind arches on half are six orders of loggias and the belfry cylindrical, with smaller diameter, with openings framed by blind arches and crowned with arches. Beyond the slope - which is certainly the best-known - the building is a unique, both for its high artistic value because of its unique location, in the context of the equally singular urban development that is the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). The tower, in an isolated and secluded from the cathedral - unlike the norm - it is still placed in the most prominent point of the square, at the mouth of the ancient city-road axis of Via Santa Maria, and adjacent to the route of the ancient Via Emilia, which continued along the north side of the Cathedral.

The extra height - about 56 meters - it determined the function of real visual pivot, making it visible from every part of the square and making it a powerful symbol of civic pride, as well as religious.

The exterior is characterised by the use of the characteristic pattern of the buildings of Pisa Campo and architecture in general, namely the superposition of galleries with arches that wrap around the entire volume. Inside there is a spiral staircase, consisting of 294 steps, which come from the belfry. From here you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Field and the city. The sides of the front door, above which was a Madonna and Child by Andrea Guardi (now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo), two bands are figured (monsters and animals) and a bas-relief (ships and a lighthouse), copy of the oldest walled up at the door of St. Ranieri. The slope of the tower, due to subsidence of the ground (other examples in Pisa are the towers of St. Nicholas and St. Michele degli Scalzi), is about 5 ° 30 ° south (corresponding to an overhang measured between the 1st and 7th frame of about 2.95 m) with a mean sinking of the base m of 2.25.


The inclination from the vertical increases on average every year about 6 ”, amounting to an increase of the overhang of 1 mm; since 1990 are ongoing consolidation interventions that have reduced the inclination of a few millimeters. The interior of the tower has the form of a large cylindrical well. A spiral staircase consisting of 294 steps, open to each floor by an output corresponding to the outer annular gallery, up to the terrace above the last floor where, by the belfry, are seven bells dating from seventeenth to the nineteenth century; here Galileo effected his experiments around the falling bodies; striking views over the city and the territory.

THE FOUNTAIN OF ANGELS - La fontana dei Putti

The monumental fountain that welcomes the entrance of the square from Via Santa Maria is the work of Giuseppe Vacca (base and fountain) and Giovanni Antonio Cybei (the marble group of putti holding the coats of arms of Pisa and the Opera).


The fountain has a great artistic value, the statues depicted give a sense of lightness and movement, the play of shadows of light and dark highlights the pure white marble of the Tower.

The origin of this beautiful piece of art from 17th century is simple - a source of water for Pisan citizens. In the 18th century, was a simple fountain it was rebuilt and equipped by Baroque marble sculpture of three angels sculpted by Flaminio Vacca.


The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located in the center of Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa and is an example of Pisan Romanesque style.


The Cathedral of Pisa was begun in 1064 by the will of the citizens and the work was directed by the Buscheto, at a time when Pisa was the most important naval power in the Mediterranean. This work was funded by the booty recovered following the victories over the Saracens and the sack of Palermo. In 1092 the church became a cathedral Primate, ie the bishop was also primate (today it continues to be so, but this title is honorific.) The cathedral was consecrated by Pope Gelasius II in 1118. Buscheto was responsible for building the body's basically five aisles, the projecting transept and the dome, while the architect Rainald, who completed this immense work, took care of the façade and to extend the building. The construction ended a few decades before the end of the twelfth century. Many were for centuries the restoration, rebuilding most important was that after the fire of 1595, in fact, on that occasion was rebuilt and the roof were made of the three bronze doors on the facade. In the eighteenth century they lined interior with large paintings, called “bricks”, and in the following centuries there were other interventions.


The cathedral has the apse oriented eastward normal practice for Christian churches. The facade is made of white marble and gray, with colored inserts more of this material. At the bottom, the entire building is crossed by blind arches on the facade that incorporate the lunettes of the three portals, and also presents an alternative to the lunettes of the lozenges. The portals, dating from the seventeenth century, are made of bronze. Above the blind arches appear four orders of loggias, separated from each other by frames made of marble inlay. Right on the facade, behind the loggias, you can see the single-light mullioned windows.


Originally the building was a Greek cross, with a large dome at the intersection of the arms, but now has a Latin cross with five aisles. The nave, which is covered by a wooden coffered ceiling and ends with a semicircular apse, has two rows of granite columns with Corinthian capitals, and has both his right and to his left, two aisles separated by colonnades of reduced dimensions. On the side aisles, which have vaulted ceilings, develop the women's galleries. The transept, divided by two rows of columns into three naves ending in apses. On the dome, elliptical, is depicted the “Virgin in Glory with Saints”, a work created in the seventeenth century. Appears in the apse mosaic of “Christ in Majesty, flanked by the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist,” in which the face of St. John was completed by Cimabue before his death. In the church, it is also possible to admire the “bricks”, paintings by local saints, made in the early years of the eighteenth century and paid the alms of the citizens of Pisa. Finally, it is worth mentioning the pulpit (pulpit) by Giovanni Pisano, from the early fourteenth century.



The Baptistery is one of the four buildings that make up the monumental complex of Piazza dei Miracoli and is known to Pisa because it was inside that, in 1564, was christened Galileo Galilei. It was started August 15, 1552 but its completion in the course of time was marked by interventions that occurred at different times.

The original design was the architect of the Baptistery Dio ti salvi, listed as one of the possible designers of the Leaning Tower, but the works were interrupted soon to be filmed, with radical changes to the initial ideas, a century later, under the guidance of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano.

The structure was completed at the end of the fourteenth century. This is the reason of the particular mix of architectural styles that distinguishes the Baptistery and that can also be found in other works of Piazza dei Miracoli. The last speech that gave us the building as we see it today dates back to the nineteenth century, when they were also made copies of the original ornamental sculptures (statues and busts of saints and prophets). The latter, in fact, they were transferred and are still preserved in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The Baptistery is a circular, covered with white marble, mainly in the Pisan Romanesque style, although decorations and mullioned windows highlight Gothic influence. Its pyramidal dome is divided into a part of brick red and one layer of lead white. It culminates with a small dome above which rests a bronze statue of St. John the Baptist.

The enemies of the Republic of Pisa accused the Pisans had not completed the dome to save money. Today we know that the decision not to cover the entire dome of red can be attributed to the secondary function of tower-lighthouse night of the Baptistery. In the seaside town there were numerous structures that acted as enormous sundials, using the reflection of the moon on white plates to be visible to ships from great distances. The interior of the Baptistery was designed intentionally bare in order to foster an extraordinary echo, capable of arousing a mystical atmosphere and evocative. At the center of the structure is situated the baptismal font, designed for the ritual “immersion”, then very common. Bigarelli by Guido da Como, built in 1246, consists of a large octagonal pool with four other smaller tanks inside. The work, while maintaining a simple line, in line with the austerity that dominates the interior of the Baptistery, is influenced by Byzantine of its author, who reveals the inlays that embellish it.The pulpit of the building was built between 1255 and 1260 by Nicola Pisano and is one of the new era in terms of sculptures, mainly due to the depth and precision anatomistica of the figures that herald the shift away from Romanesque. A hexagonal, the Pulpit has in fact decorations and reliefs that herald the recovery and reinterpretation of the classic style that profoundly renewed Italian art in later centuries. In the six main panes are depicted scenes from the life of Jesus and the Last Judgement.


The Museum of the Opera del Duomo of Pisa is located in Piazza del Duomo, in the palace that was the Chapter House of the Primate, dating from the thirteenth century, seminary, academy of fine arts and convent.


It was inaugurated in 1986 to accommodate the cathedral treasury, the exhibits removed from the sacred monuments for the sake of restoration and preservation, and all those works are no longer present the various buildings of the monumental complex, but that required a public exhibition space. The museum is named entity operating the monumental complex, or the Opera del Duomo of Pisa. Among the sculptures are remarkable works of Tino di Camaino and Giovanni Pisano, including the Virgin and Child in ivory, carved by Giovanni in 1300 for the high altar of the Cathedral. In the halls of the Treasury there are many relics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and even some medieval saved from the fire, including the one containing (according to tradition) a few rocks of Golgotha ​​and dressed as a hermit of San Ranieri, the patron saint of the city. There are also houses paintings from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. A series of wooden inlays from the ancient choir apse, a collection of vestments and several Etruscan, Roman and Egyptian. These were collected in the nineteenth century by Carlo Lasinio, curator of the cemetery, which made it a kind of museum. Finally, again by the Lasinio, there are some colourful prints in water-colour representing the frescoes of the Cemetery, which is now, for many of them, remain as a testimony of what they were.

From the cloister of the museum you can admire a beautiful view of the Leaning Tower. The building was built as the residence of the canons of the Cathedral towards the end of the twelfth century. Was comprised of two rectangular buildings, brick, L-shaped and arranged delimiting a cloister. Parts of the building are still visible today, especially in the intersection of the two branches where there is still a frescoed vault dating back to that period. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it was transformed into the diocesan seminary at the behest of Bishop Carlo Antonio Dal Pozzo. He was responsible for the current facade of Florentine imprint, on which light plaster stand, profiles in stone, windows, and two portals symmetrical. In 1784, being the seminary moved to St. Catherine's Square, the palace passed into private hands: sold to the scholar and art collector Giovanni Rosini, stayed there for a short period of Pisa the Academy of Fine Arts in 1887, he returned to being a religious building becoming nunnery: the changes that ensued were eliminated in the last restoration that began after the Primate of the Opera, in 1979, bought the building to convert it into a museum.



The Monumental Cemetery of Pisa was an ancient cemetery, enclosed by four arcades, which closes the northern side of the Piazza del Duomo. Its construction was begun by Giovanni di Simone in 1277. Tradition has it that - at the end of the thirteenth century - the Archbishop Ubaldo de Lanfranchi has made within the four-sided carry a certain amount of land from the Golgotha ​​and brought to Pisa from some crusaders returning from the Holy Land. Around that rectangle of the holy land, the building was erected slowly in the following centuries: the Gothic style so could overlap the initial Romanesque-Pisan, making the work very interesting and original. Only around half of the fifteenth century the cemetery could be said to be finished, and the Dal Pozzo chapel was added to the end of '500. Jacob Burckhardt visited Pisa in 1838 and thus describes the monument: “It is a big, beautiful Gothic cloister whose longest side measuring 450 feet, the shortest instead of 150, the interior is of white marble on every wall there are frescoes of great value and, scattered everywhere, sarcophagi (in number more than 70), urns and other marble monuments, ancient and modern, mostly of inestimable value. At the center is a field of flowers at its four corners stand tall cypress trees on the side look here inside the Leaning Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistery, and the sun shines clear and brilliant in the arcades and on the field, you do not hear more noise if not the rustling of the cypresses. You move on holy ground, the whole site is covered with earth coming from Palestine, which the Pisans would have transported hither by sea over 400 small boats. In Pisa, everything echoes of a great past, from the founding of the city at the hands of a colony of the Peloponnese to the Crusades and the daring war with Genoa and Florence.

The frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli which are located along the north wall depicting biblical stories, compositions are absolutely priceless value, all magnificent, designed with simplicity yet rich and extremely attractive; profiles seem to be largely portraits of his contemporaries. The triptych of the Last Judgement, by Andrea Orcagna, which is in its entirety tremendously poetic, really Dante, is too well known to need a description. Giotto's History of Job is unfortunately almost nothing left, like much of the rest have suffered all the frescoes. Of the ancient sarcophagi I can tell you only this: I saw reluctantly gave much evidence of the ancient touch in building their monuments with respect to the artists of our time. They represented themselves on sarcophagi with women and children, or reproduced in any scene with reference to Fate comes from their mythology (eg hunting of Meleager ancient sarcophagus, probably greek, where it stays for now Margravine Beatrice). We say torches, butterflies, vases and ornaments, all of which have nothing to do with us. The people of Pisa in the Middle Ages gave so little to do with autonomous creations in the field of funeral monuments, rather they gathered sarcophagi from Italy and Greece and, when a noble died, were limited to sculpt a white Gothic inscription on the old stone and laid it body in that classic tomb. In addition, the Campo Santo has an entire museum of sculptures from the early Middle Ages, ancient inscriptions and busts to no end: in a few words of materials for a complete history of the art here, moreover, in these beautiful fresh atria may be exhibited in the best way. Under the Gothic arches look silently down from their pedestals, busts of Caesar, Hadrian, of Junius Brutus; shadows you fall back on the venerable frescoes of the fourteenth century and over the shadowy entrance marks the neat blue sky of Pisa.” Several frescoes were badly damaged by bombing in 1944. Of them remain the sinopie, ie the preparatory sketches, now preserved in the Museum of Sinopie. He saved The Triumph of Death, attributed to Buonamico Buffalmacco which has a dramatic allegory in which the lives of some young cheerful backdrop a series of open tombs. Two doors open along the south side of the cemetery, surmounted by a Gothic tabernacle that houses a Madonna and Saints by Giovanni Pisano. In the western corridor you can see the remains of the chains that closed the port of Pisa. Were taken by the Genoese, after the battle of Meloria (1284), and only returned to Pisa in 1860. Even the cemetery, as the Baptistery and the Cathedral, is in its way linked to the famous figure of Galileo. In the Chapel Aulla houses the votive lamp that, according to legend, inspired by the famous scientist his observations on the swing of the pendulum.


The Museum of Ancient Ships of Pisa is an archaeological museum being set up in Pisa. In December 1998, during the works for the construction of a railway junction at the station in Pisa St. Flushing began to emerge from the underground excavations traces of archaeological material.


The discovery soon proved far more important than expected, it is a site of great importance. Initially it was thought it was a port of call, but soon she identified the true nature of the deposit: it is the crossing point of a channel of the land division of Pisa with the Serchio river (the ancient “auser”), where , following a series of disastrous floods (at least seven have been identified, from the second century BC to the seventh century AD), at least thirty boats have sunk. The vessels, including cargo ships and riverboats, were found to be perfectly preserved, thanks to the particular situation of complete lack of oxygen and the presence of underground aquifers. There are so able to reach a large amount of usually perishable materials, such as wood, ropes, baskets, fishing tools and utensils. It was also recovered much of the burden of these vessels contained in amphorae and vases. From the studies it was possible to pick up even a valid hypothesis on the area of ​​origin of the ships, which would have come from different parts of the Mediterranean: Gaul, Campania, Adriatic, etc..

The exceptional discovery did talk about Pompeii in a maritime version. The yard, given the great complexity of the stratigraphic situation has been made stable and turned into a school yard, where excavations are continuing briskly. The boats are being restored at the Center for Restoration of Wet Wood, built at the Shipyard.

A Ship Museum is planned in the area of ​​Terzanaia, where they were once the arsenals citizens. With the purchase by the city of Pisa in October 2010 by the state of the part of the Citadel, you can finally use the whole area for this important museum and the exhibition of the reconstruction of ancient ships.

The site of the Ancient Ships and the center of the restoration of the Wet Wood, as well as hosting students and trainees in Archaeology and Restoration from all over the world are currently equipped visited in a path that allows you to observe the activities of excavation, restoration and study course.

Often the yard or the future museum are called “Roman ships.” This is wrong because first of all the ships of Pisa, and only partially in Roman times as the Hellenistic period ranging from one to one early Middle Ages, but there are artifacts that date back to the eighth century BC. Often the yard or the future museum are called “Roman ships.” This is wrong because first of all the ships of Pisa, and only partially in Roman times as the Hellenistic period ranging from one to one early Middle Ages, but there are artifacts that date back to the eighth century BC


The Lungarno Pisa wide streets that are on the one hand and on the other ancient buildings along the so-called “Slopes”, stone walls and bricks that make up the highest part of the banks of the river. The large amplitude of the Arno river gives an elegant look and wide-ranging the old town, especially at sunset. In the evening the lights placed on the shoulders of the Arno are reflected in the river, creating a magical atmosphere.

The Lungarno Pisa were very loved by many Italian and European writers of the nineteenth century to the beautiful urban scenery described by the long curve of the river. The Italian described them “full of carriages and pedestrians, you will hear about ten or twenty languages, there shines a beautiful sun between the gilding of cafes, shops are full of gallantry and glazed palaces and houses, all of the beautiful architecture” (Giacomo Leopardi). The French were “covered with stone resembling the riversides in Paris”; just mention the description which opens the seventh chapter of Chavornay, one of the first “best seller” of Europe, the travel writer Charles Didier, published in Brussels in 1838 - “Le Lung’arno de Pise est la plus belle ligne de quais qu’il y ait en Europe […] ” . The British were fascinated by the beautiful hotels and palaces with elegant cafes that were provided “with excellent cakes and good tea” (John Ruskin). Along the Arno river overlook many important buildings such as the church of St. Sepulchre, the Praetorian Palace, the Palazzo Lanfranchi, Palazzo Gambacorti, Agostini Palace, the Royal Palace, the Palace of the day, the church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno (the Old Cathedral), the church of Santa Maria della Spina (which was dismantled and rebuilt to save it from floods of the Arno) and many other historic buildings.

Lungarno Pacinotti in 1902, with the statue of Ferdinand I still present. During the Second World War, many buildings were affected by the bombing. Some “wounds” are still under the eye of all, others have been beautifully repaired in recent times, others sheltered in the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century with architecture often criticised for their lack of adherence to previous styles.

The greatest damage to the Arno River and the adjacent structures are, however, due to the many floods that have characterised the history of the Arno. In 1869 there was a full ruinous that damaged arches and a stack of Ponte della Fortezza and caused the collapse of the Bridge at Sea, widely flooding the city streets. As a result of damage occurring, the city government decided to implement numerous interventions of consolidation of the structures adjacent to the river: the embankment walls were rearranged, the damaged bridges were repaired, a new bridge was built in alignment with via Solferino and the church of Santa Maria della Spina was dismantled and reassembled piece by piece on the new and higher level of road Lungarno Gambacorti. The above works were directed by the engineer Simonelli and carried out from 1871 to 1875.

During the 1966 flood, which struck the city very hard, the Lungarno were again damaged, especially the Lungarno Pacinotti in the city center, which sank a few meters creating an impressive chasm in the road. After the emergency work began on the restoration of the Arno river, with the construction of a reinforced concrete pier instead of the characteristic rocks along the embankments and a descent of concrete to make the most stable structures. The works do not seem to have solved the whole problem of the fragility of the banks of the Arno Pisa, at least in the long term, as they have been recently discovered beneath the road surface near the town, some old structures “arc”, by which the current driving ban for heavy vehicles.

Another important intervention to support the subsequent flooding of the Arno was the construction of an artificial channel said floodway, which deflects a fair amount of water to a second artificial mouth when the river exceeds the alert level. In previous years (and more rarely to the present day) was resorted to as a precaution even wooden bulkheads, called “windows” which were attached to some hooks on the parapets of the Arno.

In addition to the “reveal”, the property includes two creeks, the “Scalo Roncioni” in Lungarno Medici, from where the tourist boats, and the Scalo front of the Giardino Scotto, historic arrival of the races on the Arno, in Lungarno Galilei. Other structure connected with the Lungarno Medici is the Citadel, which concludes the walled part of the Arno river. In ancient times there were other airports, which were then removed, leaving the display of some ladders of iron, now abandoned.

In addition to the “reveal”, the property includes two creeks, the “Scalo Roncioni” in Lungarno Medici, from where the tourist boats, and the Scalo front of the Giardino Scotto, historic arrival of the races on the Arno, in Lungarno Galilei. Other structure connected with the Lungarno Medici is the Citadel, which concludes the walled part of the Arno river. In ancient times there were other airports, which were then removed, leaving the display of some ladders of iron, now abandoned. A curiosity still visible in the Lungarno Galilei is the pedestal of the Iron Bridge provisional, built by engineers after the Second World War: a footbridge over the river, one step accessible immediately after the war in the city center.


Part of Tramontana (north, starting from the east):

  • Lungarno Bruno Buozzi
  • Lungarno Medici
  • Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti
  • Lungarno Simonelli Ranieri
  • Lungarno Cosimo I de 'Medici
  • Part of the South (South, starting from the east):
  • Lungarno Guadolongo
  • Lungarno Leonardo Fibonacci
  • Lungarno Galileo Galilei
  • Lungarno Gambacorti
  • Lungarno Sidney Sonnino
  • Lungarno Bonaccorso from the Marshes
  • Lungarno San Giovanni al Gatano
  • Lungarno Gabriele D'Annunzio (leads to Marina di Pisa)

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