All over the world people know of the iconic Torre Pendente, or Leaning Tower of Pisa. However less is known about the ancient city of Pisa itself, which seems surprising. Even in ancient times, Pisa, Italy was considered an old city. Archaeological evidence suggests it was already a thriving city as early as the 5th century BC and it is spoken of with admiration by Virgil in his Aeneid. All this lends Pisa a great fascination as a tourist destination.
Seated at the junction of the Rivers Arno and Serchio, Pisa is an attractive laguna city in western Tuscany. Its main tourist attraction is an area called Campo (or Piazza) dei Miracoli, or field of miracles. This contains four breathtaking buildings in a blend of architectural styles including Romanesque, Moorish and Gothic: the Duomo or Cathedral; Torre Pendente, its bell tower (the Leaning Tower); the Battistero or Baptistry and Camposanto, or Holy Field, which is one of the world’s most picturesque cemeteries.
The famous bell tower, dating back to 1173, began to lean from its earliest days due to subsidence. Two other bell towers in Pisa, built on similar marshy ground, also suffered the same fate (at the churches of San Nicola and San Michele). However extensive structural work has been carried out to prevent the tower’s total destruction and the general public can now enter it and climb the tower to take advantage of the spectacular views. The majestic cathedral contains much wonderful artwork and the Baptistry, with its Romanesque dome is an acoustical wonder. The large and historic cemetery is also open to the public to view its medieval frescoes and other artwork as well as a number of sarcophagi from ancient Rome.
Pisa offers twenty major churches, a number of palaces and fortresses, old bridges spanning the River Arno and a university dating back to the 12th century. There are also numerous museums and galleries to keep the visitor occupied with Pisa’s fascinating history and cultural and artistic heritage for days on end.
Whilst Pisa may not boast a swinging night life, there are plenty of excellent restaurants and bars to while away the evening hours. After a good meal, a romantic moonlight stroll is a must, in order to soak up the atmosphere of this stunning city.