Located in central Italy, Pisa is a small, historic city nested right at the delta of two rivers, Arno and Serchio. It has approximately 90,000 residents, and is very close to Florence, Siena and Lucca, the well-known, historical gems in this area of Italy. The city is most famous for the well-known Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as for its University which was built back in the 12th century.
Due to the fact that the Tower was recently restored, the tourists are now allowed to enter the tower and even climb its 300 steps for a tilted view of the city.
A Little Bit of History
The city traces its history back to approximately 1000 BC and the origin of the name is still a mystery. In the 2nd century BC, it became a Roman colony and several decades later it became a municipium.
The famous Leaning Tower at the Piazza del Duomo
Throughout the centuries that ensued, it somehow managed to maintain a stable political and economic situation, slowly developing its fleet and maritime power.
The city reached its grand heights in 11th century when it became one of the 5 Maritime Republics, along with Genoa, Venice, Ragusa and Amalfi. However, if you lived in Pisa in those times, it would not have been exactly a thrill.
It engaged in continuous wars for the rule over the Mediterranean against other Maritime Republics, Saracens, Moors, and basically everybody else.
However, many of those wars were successful (meaning plenty of gold coming back to the Republic 🙂 ), which enabled the famous city to build its awesome landmarks we all know today, such as the Duomo and the Leaning Tower.
Slowly but surely, it became a highly important commercial center and one of the most important ports in Italy. As a matter of fact, it controlled most of the Mediterranean merchant fleet for quite a long time.
It even took over the reigns and colonies in the eastern Mediterranean from Venice, the mighty Venice.
Lungarno Pacinotti street along the Arno river in Pisa
Needles to say, its reign strongly irritated the other republics, mainly Genoa.
So finally, despite the numerically superior fleet that Pisa had, Genoa got finally really angry and defeated spectacularly the loathed maritime power once and for all, and destroyed its main port.
Then, in the best Middle Age tradition, it salted the whole port area, and the Pisa’s access to the sea was no more.
Finally, many centuries later, the city suffered repeated damage during the World War II, but thankfully the emblematic monuments of the city are still standing today.
Few people know that this city was the birthplace of the famous physicist Galileo Galilei. Other famous people who were born in this Tuscan city are the singer Andrea Bocelli and the well-known mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (remember the Da Vinci Code, the number puzzles and the brain gymnastics? That’s our friend Fibonacci).
But this destination is best known for its unique monuments: the Duomo, Church Of Saint Stephen Of The Nights, the Palace of the Nights, the beautiful Gothic church Santa Maria Della Spina, and, the most famous landmark – the Leaning Tower.
Regarding the Cathedral, the legend says that Galileo Galilei had his first thoughts about the pendulum after he watched a hanging bronze chandelier in the Cathedral.
It was then when he came up with a proposal to use a pendulum to keep track of time.
Gioco Del Ponte (Game of the Bridge) is by far the largest traditional event here.
It is a yearly event that takes place in June and it involves twelve teams that fight and push a carriage across the old Roman bridge, Ponte di Mezzo. Festa di San Ranieri is another highly popular festival as well.
Where is Pisa?
- 13.6 miles/ 22 km from Livorno, Italy
- 53.4 miles/86 km from Florence, Italy
- 101.9 miles/ 164 km from Genoa, Italy
- 114.9 miles/ 185 km from Bologna, Italy
- 213.1 miles/ 343 km from Rome, Italy
- 3.1 miles/ 5 km from Pisa International Airport, Italy
- 105.6 miles/ 170 km from Genoa Airport, Italy
- 203.1 miles/ 327 km from Rome Fiumicino Airport, Italy
- 216.2 miles/348 km from Rome Ciampino Airport, Italy
Things to See
- Piazza del Duomo
- The Leaning Tower (Torre di Pisa)
- The Duomo
- Museo dell’Opera
- Santa Maria della Spina
- Piazza del Cavalieri
- Botanical Garden
- Marina di Pisa
- Etruscan Coast
- Certosa di Pisa
- San Miniato
- Basilica of San Piero
Pisa is a destination rich in history, awe-inspiring monuments and great architecture.
It’s surrounded by many picture-perfect towns and villages, and is a great hub for exploring the beautiful province of Tuscany.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!