Tuscany – Pisa attractions and monuments

Pisa, with its monuments and attractions, is undoubtedly one of the most famous cities of art in Tuscany and Italy. Let’s discover its treasures together in this article.

The Square of Miracles

The name Piazza dei Mircacoli is due to the description of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who thus defined it in the novel “maybe yes maybe no” in 1910, for the astonishment and admiration it arouses in those who observe it.
This square includes the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Cemetery and, of course, the Leaning Tower. It is nothing but the bell tower of the Cathedral of Pisa that, due to a design error, ended up leaning for its own weight.

The magnificence of these buildings in white marble is in perfect harmony with the extension of the lawn, so much so that it was thought to include them among the seven wonders of the modern world.

Cathedral

Pisa is a city located near the mouth of the Arno River and therefore its main vocation, since its origins in ancient times, has been navigation, from which it obtained enormous benefits in its history.

The control of the naval routes in the Mediterranean was fundamental for Pisa.
Thus, after an important naval victory in 1063, the Pisans began the construction of the largest church in the Christian world at that time.

The project was entrusted to the architect Buscheto who made it the prototype of the so-called Pisan Romanesque, which can be found in many buildings and churches throughout the Mediterranean.

This church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, of which it is clearly a symbol, and the entire building is constituted by blocks of pure marble from the nearby Apuan Alps of Carrara.

Baptismal

Opposite the entrance to the Cathedral, there is a bell-shaped building: the Baptistery, designed by the architect Diotisalvi and built from 1152. It is the largest in Italy and is truly magnificent.

You’re probably wondering why the baptistery is located outside the church. Well, it’s easy to say:
In the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to enter the sacred buildings to anyone who was not already baptized. Thus, necessarily, baptism was to be performed outside the church, with total immersion in a tub of holy water.

Monumental Cemetery: Il Camposanto

A magnificent courtyard surrounded by large and elegant windows is the soul of this monumental cemetery.

Born to house the sarcophagi and Roman statues that were found during the construction of the Duomo, over the centuries, it became a sacred field where they buried the most important personalities of the city, of the academic world and some members of the Medici family. Today is a museum.

Numerous frescoes are also preserved here, including the stories of Jacob by Taddeo Gaddi (1342) and Histories of the Old Testament by Benozzo Gozzoli 1468.

The bell tower or The Leaning tower

Surely the most famous monument of the city and one of the most famous in the world is the bell tower of the Cathedral: the famous Leaning Tower or, simply, the Tower of Pisa.

With its 56 meters high and eight floors high, it is the tallest building in the city.
The beginning of the works dates back to 1073, probably from a project by the same architect Diotisalvi who designed the Baptistery.

Its inclination is due to a structural collapse of the underlying soil that occurred during the construction of the third floor. After that, the other floors were built in the opposite direction to the inclination, trying to diminish the slope.

According to legend, the Leaning Tower is also the theatre where Galileo Galilei’s famous experiment took place, which showed that the falling speed of an object does not depend on its weight, as Aristotle believed.

Today, by buying a ticket, it is possible to climb the tower to the top floor and enjoy an incomparable view.

Museum of the Sinopias

Sinopias are the preparatory drawings of the final fresco that the artists make freehand.
The Duomo Opera Museum preserves the sinopias found after the bombing of the Second World War that damaged most of the frescoes of the Cemetery and that are still being restored.

To visit all these monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli, you can buy tickets at this link, booking the ticket for a specific time, thus avoiding the queues.

Piazza dei Cavalieri

Surely this is one of the most fascinating squares in the city, and we will not fail to visit it on our tour.
In ancient times it was the center of the city’s political life, the Roman forum and, later, the seat of the city’s government.

In 1500, with the conquest of Pisa by the Florentines, the palaces of this square became the headquarters of the commissioner of Grand Duke Cosimo I of the Medici. He wanted to make major changes to the buildings by building what we now call Palazzo della Carovana and the Church of the Knights of St. Stephen. For this reason, the square is called that.
Right in front of the palace is the statue of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I of the Medici.

The bank of the river Arno- I Lungarni

These are the streets that accompany the river Arno as it flows through the city center.
Here are the most beautiful and illustrious noble buildings, such as the Palazzo Medici, the Blue Palace, home to an important museum, and the famous church of Santa Maria della Spina. In this church, according to legend, the Sacred Thorn was preserved, one of the thorns of the crown that Jesus used during the crucifixion. Today it houses contemporary art exhibitions.

Feasts of Pisa

The Luminara of San Ranieri

Every year, on the night of 16 June, the anniversary of the death of Saint Ranieri, a saint born in Pisa, is celebrated, lighting the buildings along the Arno with a hundred thousand candles, thus creating a wonderful spectacle.
The reflection of light on the surface of the water of the Arno river considerably increases the scenic effect.

The Palio of San Ranieri

The next day, on 17 June, the so-called Palio di San Ranieri took place.

This race takes place in the Arno with four rowing boats, one for each district of the city.
In this competition the four boats must reach as soon as possible a fifth boat positioned in the middle of the river and one of the crew, called the assembler, must climb to the top of the mast to recover the victory flag.

The Battle on the bridge

Another spectacular occasion in this city is the bridge game.
This is an ancient game that takes place with the comparison of the athletes of the different magitrature of the city.

Today consists of the strength competition between two teams, formed by 30 athletes each, who have to push a car placed on a track in the center of the Ponte di Mezzo. The faction that manages to bring the car to the opponent’s field wins.

This race takes place on the last Saturday in June.

Keith Haring – Tuttomondo

Every year, thousands of tourists stop to admire a large mural placed on the wall of the Sant’Antonio Abbate rectory. This 1989 work was created by the artist Keith Haring during his stay in Pisa.

It is the last work by this artist before his death, and the only one thought to be permanent.

How to book his private excursion to Pisa?

Just an hour from Florence, Pisa is one of the most famous cities in the world, thanks to its Leaning Tower, but it is full of attractions and monuments.
You can choose to visit it along with other areas, such as Lucca, Versilia, the Carrara marble quarries, or spend the whole day here.
You may choose to make a stop at Piazza dei Miracoli upon returning from the Cinque Terre Tour from Florence.

Click here to discover our classic tour proposal, or customize your experience by contacting us here.

Get ready to discover the monuments and attractions of Pisa with our private excursion to Tuscany!