Pisa is located just a few kilometers inland from the mouth of the Arno River, about 90 kilometers
downstream from Florence, and it boasts the most important airport in the region of Tuscany.
The city began as an Etruscan settlement, and it was later absorbed by the Romans and became an important port.
In the 11th century it became one of the four most powerful Italian Maritime Republics, together with Genoa,
Venice and Amalfi. This was the period of the most famous constructions: the
Duomo and its belltower,
the famous 56 meter high Torre Pendente [Leaning Tower] that started to
lean ten years after the beginning
of construction (designed by an unknown architect, it is mostly accredited to Bonanno and Gherardo di Gherardo).
The Republic began its decline in 1284 following defeat by Genoa. In 1406 the city succumbed to domination
by Florence, and it later flourished anew under Medici rule.
The Duomo and its belltower are located in Piazza dei Miracoli,
together with the Battistero [Baptistry]
and the Camposanto monumentale [monumental cemetery]. This area,
the city's religious center, has been
dedicated to religious practices from Etruscan times. We note that
there are also two other leaning belltowers:
one is that of San Nicola Church, the other of
San Michele degli Scalzi Church (in the latter case also the
church leans to one side). Other important things to see are the
Porta di Santa Maria,
Palazzo della Sapienza,
the Giardino e Orto Botanico
[botanical and horticultural gardens], and various museums, such as the Museo
delle Sinopie, Museo della Cattedrale,
Museo Nazionale di San Matteo.
Today Pisa is home to three different universities and it is a very lively city where the principal daily
social and commercial activities take place along the Lungarni
[boulevards along the river] and the streets
adjacent to Piazza Garibaldi. A visit to the historic
Caffé dell'Ussero on the Lungarno Pacinotti is a must:
this has been Pisa's meeting place for intellectuals and men of letters since 1794. The ideal place for
those interested in theater, music and dance is the Teatro Verdi,
one of the most prestigious theaters in all of Tuscany.
The coast is near and only a short distance from the city there are various seaside areas, such as
Marina di Pisa and
Tirrenia, which offer a very wide choice of sea-food restaurants.