Pisa

[59 photos]

Coordinates: 43° 43′ 22″ N, 10° 23′ 46″ E

Pisa

Overview

Pisa is a city in Tuscany, on the right bank of the mouth of the Arno River on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral), the city contains more than 20 other historic…

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Description

Pisa is a city in Tuscany, on the right bank of the mouth of the Arno River on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral), the city contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the Arno River. The city is also home of the University of Pisa, which has a history going back to the 12th century and also has the mythic Napoleonic Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies as the best Superior Graduate Schools in Italy.

Main Sights

  • Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), where the Palazzo della Carovana, with its impressive façade designed by Giorgio Vasari.
  • Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, also by Giorgio Vasari. It had originally a single nave; two more were added in the 17th century.
  • Church of St Sixtus. It was formally consecrated in 1133, but previously used as a seat of the most important notarial deeds of the town, also hosting the Council of Elders.
  • St Francis Church, designed by Giovanni di Simone, built after 1276. In 1343 new chapels were added and the church was elevated.
  • San Frediano Church, built by 1061, has a basilica interior with three aisles, with a crucifix from the 12th century. 16th century paintings were added during a restoration, including works by Ventura Salimbeni, Domenico Passignano, Aurelio Lomi, and Rutilio Manetti.
  • Church of San Nicola, built by 1097, was enlarged between 1297 and 1313 by the Augustinians, perhaps by the design of Giovanni Pisano. The octagonal belfry is from the second half of the 13th century. The paintings include the Madonna with Child by Francesco Traini (14th century) and St Nicholas Saving Pisa from the Plague (15th century). Noteworthy are also the wood sculptures by Giovanni and Nino Pisano, and the Annunciation by Francesco di Valdambrino.
  • Santa Maria della Spina Church, attributed to Lupo di Francesco (1230), is another excellent Gothic building.
  • San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno Church, founded around 952 and enlarged in the mid-12th century along lines similar to those of the Cathedral. It is annexed to the Romanesque Chapel of St Agatha, with an unusual pyramidal cusp or peak.
  • Borgo Stretto, a neighbourhood where one can stroll beneath medieval arcades and the Lungarno, the avenues along the Arno River. It includes the Gothic-Romanesque church of San Michele in Borgo (990).
  • Medici Palace, once a possession of the Appiano family, who ruled Pisa in 1392-1398. In 1400 the Medici acquired it, and Lorenzo de’ Medici sojourned here.
  • Orto botanico di Pisa is Europe’s oldest university botanical garden.
  • Palazzo Reale (“Royal Palace”), once of the Caetani patrician family. Here Galileo Galilei showed to Grand Duke of Tuscany the planets he had discovered with his telescope. The edifice was erected in 1559 by Baccio Bandinelli for Cosimo I de Medici, and was later enlarged including other palaces.
  • Palazzo Gambacorti, a Gothic building of the 14th century, is now the town hall. The interior shows frescoes boasting Pisa’s sea victories.
  • Palazzo Agostini, a Gothic building also known as Palazzo dell’Ussero, with its 15th century façade and remains of the ancient city walls dating back to before 1155. The name of the building comes from the coffee rooms of Caffè dell’Ussero, historic meeting place founded on 1 September 1775.
  • Mural Tuttomondo, the last public work of Keith Haring, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant’Antonio, painted in June 1989.

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