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Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, straddling the River Arno just before it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 89,940 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. Much of the city's architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics.
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 sanctioned Superior Graduate Schools in Italy.
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|LANGUAGE :||Italian (official)|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic|
|AREA :||185 km2 (71 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||4 m (13 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||43°43′N 10°24′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.6%|
• Female: 51.4%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||56100|
|DIALING CODE :||+39 50|
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, that is best known for its world famous Leaning Tower. But the Tower isn't the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city. The half hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city center is very small, and enjoy the sight and the atmosphere.
Pisa would not be Pisa without the University. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows, and cultural events, and fill the central street of the city at night. The University of Pisa has 60,000 students in a city of 90,000 inhabitants (200,000 in the metropolitan area). You'll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the touristy Campo dei Miracoli.
The origin of the name, Pisa, is a mystery. While the origin of the city had remained unknown for centuries, the Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans, and theLigurians had variously been proposed as founders of the city (for example, a colony of the ancient city of Pisa, Greece). Archaeological remains from the 5th century BC confirmed the existence of a city at the sea, trading with Greeks andGauls. The presence of an Etruscan necropolis, discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibaldi in 1991, confirmed its Etruscan origins.
Ancient Roman authors referred to Pisa as an old city. Strabo referred Pisa's origins to the mythical Nestor, king of Pylos, after the fall of Troy. Virgil, in hisAeneid, states that Pisa was already a great center by the times described; the settlers from the Alpheus coast have been credited with the founding of the city in the 'Etruscan lands'. The Virgilian commentator Servius wrote that the Teuti, or Pelops, the king of the Pisaeans, founded the town thirteen centuries before the start of the common era.
The maritime role of Pisa should have been already prominent if the ancient authorities ascribed to it the invention of the naval ram. Pisa took advantage of being the only port along the western coast from Genoa (then a small village) toOstia. Pisa served as a base for Roman naval expeditions against Ligurians,Gauls and Carthaginians. In 180 BC, it became a Roman colony under Roman law, as Portus Pisanus. In 89 BC, Portus Pisanus became a municipium. Emperor Augustus fortified the colony into an important port and changed the name in Colonia Iulia obsequens.
It is supposed that Pisa was founded on the shore. However, due to the alluvial sediments from the Arno and the Serchio, whose mouth lies about 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of the Arno's, the shore moved west. Strabo states that the city was 4.0 kilometres (2.5 mi) away from the coast. Currently, it is located 9.7 kilometres (6 mi) from the coast. However it was a maritime city, with ships sailing up the Arno. In the 90s AD, a baths complex was built in the city.
Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages
During the later years of the Roman Empire, Pisa did not decline as much as the other cities of Italy, probably thanks to the complexity of its river system and its consequent ease of defence. In the 7th century Pisa helped Pope Gregory Iby supplying numerous ships in his military expedition against theByzantines of Ravenna: Pisa was the sole Byzantine centre of Tuscia to fall peacefully in Lombard hands, through assimilation with the neighbouring region where their trading interests were prevailing. Pisa began in this way its rise to the role of main port of the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea and became the main trading centre between Tuscany and Corsica, Sardinia and the southern coasts of France and Spain.
After Charlemagne had defeated the Lombards under the command of Desiderius in 774, Pisa went through a crisis but soon recovered. Politically it became part of the duchy of Lucca. In 860, Pisa was captured by vikings led byBjörn Ironside. In 930 Pisa became the county centre (status it maintained until the arrival of Otto I) within the mark of Tuscia. Lucca was the capital but Pisa was the most important city, as in the middle of 10th century Liutprand of Cremona, bishop of Cremona, called Pisa Tusciae provinciae caput ("capital of the province of Tuscia"), and one century later the marquis of Tuscia was commonly referred to as "marquis of Pisa". In 1003 Pisa was the protagonist of the first communal war in Italy, against Lucca. From the naval point of view, since the 9th century the emergence of the Saracen pirates urged the city to expand its fleet: in the following years this fleet gave the town an opportunity for more expansion. In 828 Pisan ships assaulted the coast of North Africa. In 871 they took part in the defence of Salerno from the Saracens. In 970 they gave also strong support to the Otto I's expedition, defeating a Byzantine fleet in front of Calabrese coasts.
The power of Pisa as a mighty maritime nation began to grow and reached its apex in the 11th century when it acquired traditional fame as one of the four main historical Maritime Republicsof Italy (Repubbliche Marinare).
At that time, the city was a very important commercial centre and controlled a significant Mediterranean merchant fleet and navy. It expanded its powers in 1005 through the sack of Reggio Calabria in the south of Italy. Pisa was in continuous conflict with the Saracens, who had their bases in Corsica, for control of the Mediterranean. In 1017 Sardinian Giudicati were militarily supported by Pisa, in alliance withGenoa, to defeat the Saracen King Mugahid who had settled a logistic base in the north of Sardinia the year before. This victory gave Pisa supremacy in the Tyrrhenian Sea. When the Pisans subsequently ousted the Genoese from Sardinia, a new conflict and rivalry was born between these mighty marine republics. Between 1030 and 1035, Pisa went on to defeat several rival towns in Sicily and conquer Carthage in North Africa. In 1051–1052 the admiral Jacopo Ciurini conquered Corsica, provoking more resentment from the Genoese. In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman Roger I, tookPalermo from the Saracen pirates. The gold treasure taken from the Saracens in Palermo allowed the Pisans to start the building of their cathedral and the other monuments which constitute the famous Piazza del Duomo.
In 1060 Pisa had to engage in their first battle with Genoa. The Pisan victory helped to consolidate its position in the Mediterranean. Pope Gregory VIIrecognised in 1077 the new "Laws and customs of the sea" instituted by the Pisans, and emperor Henry IV granted them the right to name their own consuls, advised by a Council of Elders. This was simply a confirmation of the present situation, because in those years the marquis had already been excluded from power. In 1092 Pope Urban II awarded Pisa the supremacy over Corsica andSardinia, and at the same time raising the town to the rank of archbishopric.
Pisa sacked the Tunisian city of Mahdia in 1088. Four years later Pisan and Genoese ships helped Alfonso VI of Castilla to push El Cid out of Valencia. A Pisan fleet of 120 ships also took part in the First Crusade and the Pisans were instrumental in the taking of Jerusalem in 1099. On their way to the Holy Landthe ships did not miss the occasion to sack some Byzantine islands: the Pisan crusaders were led by their archbishop Daibert, the future patriarch of Jerusalem. Pisa and the other Repubbliche Marinare took advantage of the crusade to establish trading posts and colonies in the Eastern coastal cities of the Levant. In particular the Pisans founded colonies in Antiochia, Acre, Jaffa,Tripoli, Tyre, Latakia and Accone. They also had other possessions in Jerusalemand Caesarea, plus smaller colonies (with lesser autonomy) in Cairo, Alexandriaand of course Constantinople, where the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenusgranted them special mooring and trading rights. In all these cities the Pisans were granted privileges and immunity from taxation, but had to contribute to the defence in case of attack. In the 12th century the Pisan quarter in the Eastern part of Constantinople had grown to 1,000 people. For some years of that century Pisa was the most prominent merchant and military ally of the Byzantine Empire, overcoming Venice itself.
In 1113 Pisa and the Pope Paschal II set up, together with the count of Barcelonaand other contingents from Provence and Italy (Genoese excluded), a war to free the Balearic Islands from the Moors: the queen and the king of Majorcawere brought in chains to Tuscany. Even though the Almoravides soon reconquered the island, the booty taken helped the Pisans in their magnificent programme of buildings, especially the cathedral and Pisa gained a role of pre-eminence in the Western Mediterranean.
In the following years the mighty Pisan fleet, led by archbishop Pietro Moriconi, drove away the Saracens after ferocious combats. Though short-lived, this success of Pisa in Spain increased the rivalry with Genoa. Pisa's trade with theLanguedoc and Provence (Noli, Savona, Fréjus and Montpellier) were an obstacle to the Genoese interests in cities like Hyères, Fos, Antibes and Marseille.
The war began in 1119 when the Genoese attacked several galleys on their way to the motherland, and lasted until 1133. The two cities fought each other on land and at sea, but hostilities were limited to raids and pirate-like assaults.
In June 1135, Bernard of Clairvaux took a leading part in the Council of Pisa, asserting the claims of pope Innocent II against those of pope Anacletus II, who had been elected pope in 1130 with Norman support but was not recognised outside Rome. Innocent II resolved the conflict with Genoa, establishing the sphere of influence of Pisa and Genoa. Pisa could then, unhindered by Genoa, participate in the conflict of Innocent II against king Roger II of Sicily. Amalfi, one of the Maritime Republics (though already declining under Norman rule), was conquered on August 6, 1136: the Pisans destroyed the ships in the port, assaulted the castles in the surrounding areas and drove back an army sent by Roger from Aversa. This victory brought Pisa to the peak of its power and to a standing equal to Venice. Two years later its soldiers sacked Salerno.
In the following years Pisa was one of the staunchest supporters of the Ghibelline party. This was much appreciated by Frederick I. He issued in 1162 and 1165 two important documents, with the following grants: apart from the jurisdiction over the Pisan countryside, the Pisans were granted freedom of trade in the whole Empire, the coast from Civitavecchia toPortovenere, a half of Palermo, Messina, Salerno and Naples, the whole ofGaeta, Mazara and Trapani, and a street with houses for its merchants in every city of the Kingdom of Sicily. Some of these grants were later confirmed by Henry VI, Otto IV and Frederick II. They marked the apex of Pisa's power, but also spurred the resentment of cities like Lucca, Massa, Volterra and Florence, who saw their aim to expand towards the sea thwarted. The clash with Lucca also concerned the possession of the castle of Montignoso and mainly the control of the Via Francigena, the main trade route between Rome and France. Last but not least, such a sudden and large increase of power by Pisa could only lead to another war with Genoa.
Genoa had acquired a largely dominant position in the markets of Southern France. The war began presumably in 1165 on the Rhône, when an attack on a convoy, directed to some Pisan trade centres on the river, by the Genoese and their ally, the count of Toulouse failed. Pisa on the other hand was allied to Provence. The war continued until 1175 without significant victories. Another point of attrition was Sicily, where both the cities had privileges granted by Henry VI. In 1192, Pisa managed to conquer Messina. This episode was followed by a series of battles culminating in the Genoese conquest of Syracuse in 1204. Later, the trading posts in Sicily were lost when the new Pope Innocent III, though removing the excommunication cast over Pisa by his predecessorCelestine III, allied himself with the Guelph League of Tuscany, led by Florence. Soon he stipulated a pact with Genoa too, further weakening the Pisan presence in Southern Italy.
To counter the Genoese predominance in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Pisa strengthened its relationship with their Spanish and French traditional bases (Marseille, Narbonne, Barcelona, etc.) and tried to defy the Venetian rule of the Adriatic Sea. In 1180 the two cities agreed to a non-aggression treaty in the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic, but the death of Emperor Manuel Comnenus inConstantinople changed the situation. Soon there were attacks on Venetian convoys. Pisa signed trade and political pacts with Ancona, Pula, Zara, Split and Brindisi: in 1195 a Pisan fleet reached Pola to defend its independence from Venice, but the Serenissima managed soon to reconquer the rebel sea town.
One year later the two cities signed a peace treaty which resulted in favourable conditions for Pisa. But in 1199 the Pisans violated it by blockading the port of Brindisi in Apulia. In the following naval battle they were defeated by the Venetians. The war that followed ended in 1206 with a treaty in which Pisa gave up all its hopes to expand in the Adriatic, though it maintained the trading posts it had established in the area. From that point on the two cities were united against the rising power of Genoa and sometimes collaborated to increase the trading benefits in Constantinople.
In 1209 there were in Lerici two councils for a final resolution of the rivalry with Genoa. A twenty-year peace treaty was signed. But when in 1220 the emperorFrederick II confirmed his supremacy over the Tyrrhenian coast fromCivitavecchia to Portovenere, the Genoese and Tuscan resentment against Pisa grew again. In the following years Pisa clashed with Lucca in Garfagnana and was defeated by the Florentines at Castel del Bosco. The strong Ghibellineposition of Pisa brought this town diametrically against the Pope, who was in a strong dispute with the Empire. And indeed the pope tried to deprive the town of its dominions in northern Sardinia.
In 1238 Pope Gregory IX formed an alliance between Genoa and Venice against the empire, and consequently against Pisa too. One year later he excommunicated Frederick II and called for an anti-Empire council to be held in Rome in 1241. On May 3, 1241, a combined fleet of Pisan and Sicilian ships, led by the Emperor's son Enzo, attacked a Genoese convoy carrying prelates from Northern Italy and France, next to the isle of Giglio (Battle of Giglio), in front of Tuscany: the Genoese lost 25 ships, while about thousand sailors, two cardinals and one bishop were taken prisoner. After this outstanding victory the council in Rome failed, but Pisa was excommunicated. This extreme measure was only removed in 1257. Anyway, the Tuscan city tried to take advantage of the favourable situation to conquer the Corsican city of Aleria and even lay siege toGenoa itself in 1243.
The Ligurian republic of Genoa, however, recovered fast from this blow and won back Lerici, conquered by the Pisans some years earlier, in 1256.
The great expansion in the Mediterranean and the prominence of the merchant class urged a modification in the city's institutes. The system with consuls was abandoned and in 1230 the new city rulers named a Capitano del Popolo("People's Chieftain") as civil and military leader. In spite of these reforms, the conquered lands and the city itself were harassed by the rivalry between the two families of Della Gherardesca and Visconti. In 1237 the archbishop and the Emperor Frederick II intervened to reconcile the two rivals, but the strains did not cease. In 1254 the people rebelled and imposed twelve Anziani del Popolo("People's Elders") as their political representatives in the Commune. They also supplemented the legislative councils, formed of noblemen, with new People's Councils, composed by the main guilds and by the chiefs of the People's Companies. These had the power to ratify the laws of the Major General Council and the Senate.
It is said that the decline began on August 6, 1284, when the numerically superior fleet of Pisa, under the command of Albertino Morosini, was defeated by the brilliant tactics of the Genoese fleet, under the command of Benedetto Zaccaria and Oberto Doria, in the dramatic naval Battle of Meloria. This defeat ended the maritime power of Pisa and the town never fully recovered: in 1290 the Genoese destroyed forever the Porto Pisano (Pisa's Port), and covered the land with salt. The region around Pisa did not permit the city to recover from the loss of thousands of sailors from the Meloria, while Liguria guaranteed enough sailors to Genoa. Goods however continued to be traded, albeit in reduced quantity, but the end came when the River Arno started to change course, preventing the galleys from reaching the city's port up the river. It seems also that nearby area became infested with malaria. The true end came in 1324 when Sardinia was entirely lost in favour of the Aragonese.
Always Ghibelline, Pisa tried to build up its power in the course of the 14th century and even managed to defeat Florence in the Battle of Montecatini(1315), under the command of Uguccione della Faggiuola. Eventually, however, after a long siege, Pisa was occupied by Florentines in 1406: in fact florentines corrupted the Capitano del Popolo ("People's Chieftain") Giovanni Gambacorta that opened by night the city gate of San Marco. Pisa was never conquered by an army. In 1409 Pisa was the seat of a council trying to set the question of the Great Schism. Furthermore, in the 15th century, access to the sea became more and more difficult, as the port was silting up and was cut off from the sea. When in 1494 Charles VIII of France invaded the Italian states to claim the Kingdom of Naples, Pisa grabbed the opportunity to reclaim its independence as the Second Pisan Republic.
But the new freedom did not last long. There were fifteen years of battles and sieges by the Florentine troops led by Antonio da Filicaja, Averardo Salviati and Niccolò Capponi but they never managed to conquer the city. Vitellozzo Vitelli with his brother Paolo were the only ones that actually managed to break the strong defences of Pisa and make a breach in the Stampace bastion in the southern west part of the walls, but he did not entered the city. For that they were suspected of treachery and Paolo was put to death. However resources of Pisa were getting low and, at the end, the city was sold to Visconti family from Milan and eventually to Florence again. Its role of major port of Tuscany went to Livorno. Pisa acquired a mainly cultural role spurred by the presence of the University of Pisa, created in 1343, and later reinforced by the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (1810) and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (1987).
Pisa was the birthplace of the important early physicist Galileo Galilei. It is still the seat of an archbishopric. Besides its educational institutions; it has become a light industrial centre and a railway hub. It suffered repeated destruction during World War II.
Since the early 1950s the US Army has maintained Camp Darby just outside Pisa which is used by many US military personnel as a base for vacations in the area.
Pisa experiences a borderline humid subtropical (Cfa) and Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), since only a single month receives less than 40 millimetres (1.6 in). The city is characterized by mild winters and very warm summers. This transitional climate keeps Pisa from enjoying a summer devoid of rain, typical of Central and Southern Italy, as occasional showers disturb the drier summer.
Climate data for Pisa
|Record high °C (°F)||17.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||11.4|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||2.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||−13.8|
|Source #1: Servizio Meteorologico|
|Source #2: Servizio Meteorologico|
Prices in Pisa
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.55|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€29.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€54.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€7.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€3.75|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€3.75|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€6.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€14.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.15|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€5.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€2.10|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€85.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€33.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€73.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.20|
55 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
191 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Pisa has regular trains to and from Florence (usually three per hour), to and fromLucca (usually every hour) and is also accessible by bus, and has an international airport.
Pisa International Airport (IATA: PSA), also known as Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport, is the main airport of Tuscany and is served by several airlines operating hundreds of weekly flights to national and international destinations. Numerous companies offer charter flights to and from a number of European and non-European destinations. Flying to Pisa is really cheap and easy: the most recognized low-cost airlines serve Pisa. The airport is close to the city center (about 1km) - it takes only a few minutes to reach the center by bus, train or taxi. The airport is also within easy walking distance of the center, which takes around 20 min.
Do not expect the airport to be open 24/7, though. Many smaller European airports do have opening hours, so don't expect to stay overnight or hang out until late.
You can purchase bus and train tickets from the information desk in the arrivals hall. The trains are the fastest way to get to the city but run only twice per hour. The tickets cost €1.10 and the ride takes only about 5 min.
The bus (The Red Line or LAM Rosso towards Jacobo) has a regular service every 15 min and it takes about 15 min to get to the city. The bus runs to Piazza dei Miracoli and the central station. Since the ticket machine at the bus stop "speaks" only Italian, it's better to get the tickets from the information desk if you don't speak the language. Single fare is €1, but if you buy them from the driver on the bus, you pay double that. All convenience and book shops also sell the ticket. You may need two tickets since each ticket is valid for only 30 min.
The bus terminal is directly in front of the airport, on the right side when coming out of the terminal building. Once you are in the city, its main sights are easy to locate and are all within walking distance. If you are boarding the bus from the Train station, cross the road in front of the station and walk a few feet to the right.
If you prefer a more convenient method of travel, a taxi to the city centre will cost around €6-10 (plus a €2.55 surcharge on Sundays, bank holidays and at night between 22:00 and 06:00).
Pisa Centrale is the main train station of Pisa. Rome to Genova trains stop at Pisa Centrale. If you are planning an in-route visit to Pisa, it is also convenient since Pisa Centrale has Left Luggage service open from 6AM-9PM. Each baggage deposited costs €3 for 12 hr. Else, if you are in the city just to see the Leaning Tower, you could also get down at the Pisa S. Rossore train station which is much closer to the tower. Do check the train schedule, as not all trains stop there. However there are regional trains to Florence every hour at the 46th minute (as of 9 July 2012).
One of the most convenient ways to arrive in Pisa is by carpooling, [www]. You can split the costs and make the journey cheaper.
Transportation - Get Around
There are regular buses around town, including from the train station to the Field of Miracles. Attractions are within a half hour walk of each other. Local bus tickets are available at tobacco shops; there are also vending machines both at the station and the airport.
Many car rental agencies are at the airport. While you will not need a car in the city itself, it can be a good choice if you want to go around Tuscany from Pisa. To get to the car rental offices take the shuttle bus in front of the airport's arrival hall to the right, close to the city bus stop.
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The central shopping area is centered around the Corso Italia, between the railway station and the Ponte di Mezzo (the central bridge) and also in the Via Borgo Stretto, north of the bridge. However, many specialized shops are sprinkled around the city.
The area around the leaning tower is geared toward tourists: There are lots of small souvenir kiosks, stands and "flying merchants", selling all kinds of souvenirs from small statues to hour-glasses - of course the general motif is the leaning tower.
Beware: it is an offense to buy from one of the "flying merchant" that sell fake replicas. They are very persuasive and if you buy anything you must haggle – they'll drop their prices significantly.
Every two weeks there is a bazaar with quite cheap books, records and old household items.
And don't forget to try some of Pisa's famous biscotti (biscuits or cookies). Bakeries all through town will sell multiple varieties, for a low price.
For the budget option, if coming from the Airport, there is a Coop supermarket on the left, on Via Pasquale Pardi.
As a general rule, try not to eat near the Leaning Tower where prices are high and quality low. Head instead to the central area (5-10 minutes walking from Piazza dei Miracoli): you can find very good, cheap restaurants there. For example, there are excellent, friendly and reasonably priced cafeterias in the busy small vegetable market, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Also Via San Martino, close to the south bank of the river, offers some places with good quality and low price.
This said, near the Leaning Tower, invia Roma, there's a good Indian Restaurant, with a beautiful atmosphere and really good, though not always cheap, dishes. In Piazza dei Miracoli, there's a quite good restaurant-pizzeria, cheap enough, the Kinzica.
In any case, don't miss Salza, in Borgo Stretto, with high prices but absolutely gorgeous chocolate, sweets and pastries of all kinds. Don't sit down inside, though, because you end up paying €10 for two coffees.
If you have access to transport, an alternative to eating in Pisa is to take the relatively short drive to Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea some 15 km from central Pisa. Just follow the SS224 road west on the south side of River Arno and you are there in 20 minutes. There are several restaurants by the seafront, and having your dinner here, outside and when the sun sets in the west, is a rewarding experience. Parking and tables may be out if you arrive late, so check the opening hours (many restaurants do not open until around 19.00) and be there early. Even better, spend an hour or two just walking along the beach before the restaurants open. Try Roca de Mar.
Finally, there's a good pizzeria near the Youth Hostel, too, on the road that leads to the Leclerc, on the left then you must go in the tunnel.
Here are some good spots for eating:
- Gelateria Naturale Artigianale De' Coltelli, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, . Closed in the winter. Ice cream made using quality ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. €2 for two scoops.
- La Lupa Ghiotta, Viale francesco bonaini, 113 (from the station walk towards Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, than turn right in Viale Francesco Bonaini), . Has very good food in a cozy environment.
- La Mescita, Via Cavalca, very close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. An expensive but very good choice. They serve both traditional and more sophisticated food.
- Il Montino, Via del Monte. Great place to get fine pizza and excellentfocaccine. You can eat there or grab your food to go.
- NamasteIndia Ristorante (NamasteIndia Ristorante Indiano), Via S.Bernardo, 34 (Crossing Street to Corso Italia), 039-333-7546356.13:.00-01:00. Authentic typical Indian food. 5-min walk from railway station.
- Numero 11, 47-49, Via San Martino. Generous portions in an informal setting.
- Osteria Bernardo, piazza San Paolo all'Orto,1, , e-mail: in[email protected]. 19.30-24.00. This fine restaurant overlooks the Piazza San Paolo Orto and has a sober and comfortable ambiance. € 20 - € 30.
- Osteria dei Cavalieri, Via San Frediano. close to Piazza dei Cavalieri. Quite expensive but very good. You can find typical and traditional recipes from Tuscany.
- Osteria di Culegna, Via Mercanti (on the main road). Good food and research of the Tuscan typical recipes, nice and smiley service. Closed on Sunday.
- Pizzeria Tavola Calda La Tana, V. San Frediano. 12 noon-3PM and 7PM onwards. This is a restaurant frequented by locals. The food is good and reasonably priced compared to other restaurants in Pisa. Staff welcome all the locals and pamper the tourists.
- Pizzeria L'Arancio, Via l'Arancio 1, 039 0505 007 29, e-mail:[email protected]. 12.00 - 15.30, 19.00 - 22.00, closed on Sunday.Affordable pizzeria which also serves good foccacia. Relaxed student-like atmosphere.
- Pizzeria Il Fornaccio, Via Luigi Bianchi, 33 (Just outside the city walls.). A pizzeria just outside the walls. Pizza is very good and the appetizers (antipasti) possibly even better. Very affordable. Authentic informal Italian pizzeria atmosphere. The place is not very big and popular with locals late in the evening, so it is best to arrive early (before 8PM) or reserve a table, especially during week-ends.
- La Reginella, Via di Gello at via Filzi. 15 min walk from the tower or take bus number 2. Great pizza, and the guy who cooks it is originally from Napoli, ask for Vincenzino.
- La Stanzina, Via Calvalca close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Many of the recipes come from southern Italy.
- Trattoria da Cucciolo, Vicolo Rosselmini 9. The food is good and served in a tasteful quasi-homely ambiance. The staff is friendly and helpful. €8-15.
- Millibar Ristorante Pisa, Via palestro 39, , e-mail: [email protected]. 12.00-15.00 19.00-23.00. A new modern restaurant & cocktail bar. Millibar Ristorante Pisa is a great restaurant€15.
- Pizzeria Pisa Le Tre Forchette, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), , e-mail: [email protected]. 19.00-00.000. In the old town, within the walls of the Church of St. Peter ( 1072 AD).10€.
Coffe & Drink
- Babette (food and art café), Lungarno Mediceo 15, +39 50 9913302/3. This nice café is on Lungarno Mediceo, really close to the center of the city. The place has a strong personality; you can tell it's owned by art and culture lovers. You can pick up a book and read while having a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate, or even have a meal. Sometimes concerts take place in this café, and there are also evenings dedicated to special themes.
- Ritz, Borgo Stretto. Good coffee, fine service and the best dressed baristas. They also sell French wine and Champagne.
Sights & Landmarks
Pisa is divided into 4 historical quarters. There is much more than the Leaning Tower in the city and several different walking itineraries are available.
- The Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles is to the north of central Pisa. It's an UNESCO World Heritage site and contains the city's most famous sights:
- Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), Piazza Arcivescovado 1, +39 050 835011/12, e-mail: [email protected]. Mon-Sun 09:00-20:00.The structure was originally conceived as the cathedral's bell tower. Construction began in 1173 and the tower started leaning soon afterwards due to subsidence of the ground underneath its base. A project to keep the tower from leaning more and tipping over finally reached a successful conclusion in 2001, and the tower is again open to those wishing to climb it. Climbing the tower requires a reservation-based ticket for €18. Tickets can be bought for the tower on the day, for a specific entry time. This could be 45 min-2 hr after the purchase time, but there is a lot to see while you wait. It is better if you buy tickets online for €18 well in advance (up to 20 days). The tickets are non-exchangeable, effectively non-refundable, and only good for the tower, so they're a bit of a risk to purchase in advance. Make the effort to climb, though, and you'll be rewarded by the view. Curiosity: the famous Pisa leaning tower is not the only one, due of the marshy land that they are built on, there are other 2 towers in Pisa: the Bell Tower of San Nicola Church, near the banks of Arno and the Bell Tower of San Michele of Scalzi Church. For safety reasons, children who will not have turned 8 by the end of this year are not permitted to enter. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. ID may be requested to certify the age. 18€.
- Duomo di Pisa. A splendid cathedral, containing artwork by Giambologna, Della Robbia, and other major artists. Fine Romanesque style with double aisles and a cupola, a huge apse mosaic partly by Cimabue, and a fine pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in late Gothic / early Renaissance style. Free (a maximum of two coupons per person).
- Battistero (Baptistry). Large round Romanesque dome with many sculptured decorations and a fine view up top; climb this if you want a great view with the Leaning Tower visible in your photos. Arabic-style pavement, pulpit by Nicola Pisano (father of Giovanni), and fine octagonal font. At regular intervals, the ticket-checker-guard at the entrance comes into the baptistery and gives an audio-treat of echo-effect. The guard shouts out few sounds which when echoed sound like pure beautiful music. You can also cast your inhibitions to the wind, stand by the wall, and sing long notes that turn into chords by yourself, as the echoes go round and round the dome of the building. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Monumental Cemetery and the Sinopie Museum.
- Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). A huge cemetery building with lots of interesting art, including a collection of ancient Roman sarcophagi and splendid medieval frescoes by the "Master of the Triumph of Death". There is also a 19th century statue of the famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, a native of the city.Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Sinopie Museum. Free entrance to the cemetery on 1 and 2 Nov.
- Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Has sculptures and paintings formerly preserved in the Cathedral and the cemetery. Some of the more unusual are bronze griffins from Syria captured by the Crusaders. You can also capture nice photos from the Tower and the Duomo from its balcony.
- Museo delle Sinopie. Skipped over by many visitors, this museum is a treat for art lovers. After WWII many of the surviving murals and pieces of murals from Pisa's Campo Santo were detached from the walls to try to preserve them. It was unexpectedly discovered that the artist sketches underneath survived. These were moved to this museum. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery.
- Piazza dei Cavalieri. A small town square with many historical buildings that hosted the political powers of the city in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but most of them are not accessible to tourists, as they are now property of the University of Pisa or Scuola Normale Superiore (a prestigious elitary school).
- Palazzo della Carovana. The main Scuola Normale Superiore building, with an elaborate façade, by the important Italian Renaissance artist and architect Giorgio Vasari - who is also said to be the first historian of art.
- Palazzo dell'Orologio (Clock Palace). A XIV century building that has replaced the Torre della Fame (tower of hunger), where the Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned and left to die of hunger with his sons, as cited in the Dante's Divina Commedia.
- Chiesa di Santo Stefano. Designed by Giorgio Vasari in the XVI century for the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano (Order of Chivalry of Saint :tephan), a chivalry order founded to fight piracy in 1561.
- Other historical buildings include the Church of San Rocco, the Rectory, Palazzo Carovana and Palazzo dei Dodici.
- Lungarno Mediceoand Lungarno Pacinotti on the north side of Arno river, Lungarno Galilei andLungarno Gambacorti on the south side: these riverside streets give a distinctive character to Pisa, especially at night when the lamplight reflects on the Arno river. Along the Lungarni stands interesting places like:
- Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Piazza San Matteo, 1, lungarno Mediceo, . This is a fantastic history and art museum, which houses almost all of the original artwork from all the churches in and around Pisa. Although fairly small, it is one of the biggest for Tuscan Renaissance art, hosted in the rooms of the San Matteo monastery. A gem overlooked by most tourists.
- Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza XX Settembre. Two opposing town square, one at each end of Ponte di Mezzo (middle bridge), and are considered the center of the city. From Piazza Garibaldi starts Borgo Stretto, an old street with lots of shops that, together with Corso Italia starting in the opposite direction from Piazza XX Settembre, create a pedestrian area (interrupted only by the bridge) that is considered the center of the city. In Piazza XX Settembre you can find the Logge dei Banchi, a building created to host textile market in 1600, and the town hall, in the Palazzo del Comune.
- Santo Sepolcro (on Lungarno Galilei). A Romanesque octagonal church with conical spire by Diotisalvi, who also built the baptistry - a Templar church, striking and forceful. Usually is not open to the public.
- Ussero Café founded on 1775, lungarno Pacinotti 27. A monument to Italian culture in the 1400's Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. In 1839, it was seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
- Santa Maria della Spina (on Lungarno Gambacorti). A very small Gothic church built in 1230 to house a thorn from Jesus's crown, it's considered one of the best expressions of Italian Gothic. It is so small that in 1800, it was moved from the Arno riverbank to a place some metres higher, one stone at time, to protect it from flooding. It's usually not open to the public.
- Giardino Scotto (on Lungarno Fibonacci at the end of Lungarno Galilei). A fortress converted to a public park which opens in summer for open air cinema, music shows and other events.
- La Cittadella (at the end of Lungarno Simonelli). A fortress built to guard the access by the river Arno and the shipyard in the middle age, when the sea was closer to the city.
- University botanical garden (Orto botanico), via Luca Ghini 5. The first university botanical garden of Europe, created by the will of Cosimo de' Medici in 1544. It is open weekday mornings and is free to the public.
- Tuttomondo. Keith Haring mural. Keith Haring visited Pisa and fell in love with the town, so he decided to paint this amazing mural as a gift to Pisa. Though extremely large, it is easy to miss so look out for it; it is located between via Giuseppe Mazzini and via Massimo D'Azeglio just off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
- Fine Romanesque churches, San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, San Michele in Borgo, San Paolo with a sculpture gallery inside, Sant'Andrea - not all are open every day; double-check the hours if you want to visit.
When you have done the main attractions of Pisa, there is still one little gem left: Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea. It hosts a beach, not with sand, but with little marble pebbles. The pebbles are smooth, and will not harm your feet, but since they are slightly unstable near the water, sea water compatible footwear is recommended for walking along the beach and getting in or out of the water.
Museums & Galleries
- Museo dell'Opera del Duomo: exhibiting among others the original sculptures of Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano and the treasures of the cathedral.
- Museo delle Sinopie: showing the sinopias from the camposanto, the monumental cemetery. These are red ocher underdrawings for frescoes, made with reddish, greenish or brownish earth colour with water.
- Museo Nazionale di San Matteo: exhibiting sculptures and paintings from the 12th to 15th centuries, among them the masterworks of Giovanni and Andrea Pisano, the Master of San Martino, Simone Martini, Nino Pisanoand Masaccio.
- Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Reale: exhibiting the belongings of the families that lived in the palace: paintings, statues, armors, etc.
- Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti per il Calcolo: exhibiting a collection of instruments used in science, between whose a pneumatic machine of Van Musschenbroek and a compass probably belonged to Galileo Galilei.
- Museo di storia naturale e del territorio dell'Università di Pisa, located in the Certosa di Calci, outside the city. It houses one of the largest cetacean skeletons collection in Europe.
- Palazzo Blu : temporary exhibitions and cultural activities center, located in the Lungarno, in the heart of the old town, the palace is easy recognizable because it is the only blue building.
- Cantiere delle Navi di Pisa - The Pisa's Ancient Ships Archaeological Area: A museum of 10,650 square meters - 3,500 archaeological excavation, 1,700 laboratories and one restoration center -, that visitors can visit with a guided tour.
Spa & Wellness
- Casciana Terme. the thermal water used at Casciana Terme since ancient times, has in recent years seen its applications extended to modern rehabilitation therapies, cardiovascular and respiratory treatment, in the improvement of the digestive functions and their treatment, because its natural, relaxing action enables patients to regain their functional equilibrium and the enjoyment of pleasures they had lost.
- San Giuliano Terme. Water with beneficial effects and calciferous magnesic sulfate water, naturally rich in vital curative elements, gush forth at the foot of Mount San Giuliano at the Spa out of different springs and are gathered in two groups called the "East Baths" (40°C temperature) and the "West Baths" (38°C temperature).
Festivals and events
- On June 16th Pisa holds the Luminarafestival, held for the patron saint's day (San Ranieri). At sunset, all the lights along the Arno are dimmed and more than 10,000 candles are lit, which makes for some spectacular sights from the Ponte di Mezzo. Various activities are organized in the streets and the night ends with a big fireworks.
- Another summer attraction is the Gioco del Ponte (Game of Bridge), a historical manifestation held yearly on the last Sunday of June, in which the two sides of the city (Tramontana and Mezzogiorno, geographically split by the Arno river) participate in a historical procession, with 709 walk-ons, then challenge each other to a physical match in which their teams, each composed of 20 members, try to conquer the "Ponte di Mezzo" (the main bridge in Pisa) by pushing a trolley in order to force the rival team off the bridge.
For nightlife, there aren't many clubs or live music places in Pisa: the usual night in Pisa is having a dinner of pizza or a cheap kebab, having a beer in Borgo Stretto, or Piazza delle Vettovaglie or a pub in the surrounding areas, and having a walk in Piazza Garibaldi and Lungarni, where the "spallette" (the low brick walls around the river) are full of students.
Some alternative clubs (hard rock, alternative, funky) in the center are:
Italians really loves to sing. You can find many talented local singers at the Millie Bar. The fun energetic lounge is located in city center not far from Piazza Garibaldi. Every Tuesday night is Karaoke Night. Who knew the Italians have a deep passion for singing.
- Milliebar - via palestro, 39
Less alternative clubs are found at the seaside, about 8 km from Pisa, in Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia. For instance
- Pappafico (a disco with house music and the like)
- PIA (a disco/bar on the sea)
- Sunset (mainly an aperitiv/happy hour/chill-out location on the sea)
During summer nights, everybody stays around the banks of the rivers, sipping drinks bought from the several bars in the area. A few very good wine bars are also available for colder, winter nights.
- Millibar Pub Pisa, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), . 18;00-02:00. Millibar Pub Pisa has long been a popular meeting point for students and tourists. Good drinks, good music, good food and a friendly atmosphere. For sports fans there is a giant screen and projector, three 46" plasma TVs, a private room to enjoy the game in full comfort a stadium-like sound system. MC Alessio for a night of Karaoke on Tuesdays
- Orzobruno, Via Case Dipinte 6/8 (A bit tricky to find but worth it), . Sun-Thu 7PM-1AM, Fri-Sat 7PM-2AM. Artisan organic beer and organic food.
- Pisa Caffè dell'Ussero, Lungarno Pacinotti, 27. It is a monument to Italian culture in the 1400s Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. Its walls are covered with glorious mementos from its most famous visitors of the Risorgimento when they were students: Carlo Goldoni, Gacomo Casanova, Vittorio Alfieri, Filippo Mazzei, John Ruskin, Domenico Guerrazzi, Giuseppe Giusti, Renato Fucini, Giosuè Carducci, Cesare Abba, Giuseppe Montanelli. In 1839, it was seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
- Sottobosco, Piazza San Paolo all'Orto (Starting in Borgo Stretto, the main shopping street North of the river, walk North and turn right down via Sant'Orsola then left at via degli Orafi. Take the next right and walk straight). Closed Mondays. Bar which also sells books. Has an upright piano and Jazz nights.
- Vineria di Piazza, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Serves great wine and very few dishes. You can find very traditional food here.
Safety in Pisa
Pisa is a safe city. You do not need to worry about your safety (except in some zones at night, such as the area surrounding the station). However, you should take the obvious precautions (like, if you stay in a very cheap hotel, take your valuables with you) and watch out for pickpockets in the touristy areas.
As stated in the Buy section, avoid purchasing sunglasses, umbrellas, and other trinkets from illegal sellers. Definitely steer clear of counterfeit luxury goods. Upon arriving to Pisa, it is not uncommon for tourists to be swarmed by vendors. Some vendors can be pushy or even downright aggressive. Even saying "no thank you" can bring unwanted attention. It's much better to ignore them entirely. Don't worry about being rude.
Even though cheap prices are tempting, especially when traveling on a budget, please remember that recently the Italian police have fined tourists for buying from illegal sellers. These fines can be very steep (up to €1,000). In front of the Tower, there are several legal vendors who have permits to sell items to tourists or anyone else. Be responsible and buy from them. Legal vendors have stalls lined along the main road whereas illegal vendors keep merchandise in a sack, cardboard boxes, or (in the case of fake purses) on their arms.