October 18, 2016

Top Ten Things to Do in Pisa

Located in Tuscany, in its central-western region, Pisa is a city that’s synonymous to one of Italy’s most iconic landmarks – the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, schedule at least one day dedicated to exploring Pisa. A visit to this well-loved tourist destination will be well worth it. Here are the top 10 things you can do during your day tour in Pisa.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Italy may have a lot of historical monuments, architectural marvels, and cultural attractions but the Leaning Tower of Pisa definitely stands out. One of the most remarkable structures in Italy and even in the whole world, the colossal marble tower is actually the freestanding bell tower of the Pisa Cathedral. The construction of the tower started in 1173 and the building began leaning to one side during the early stages, owing to the fact that the ground was too soft to support the bell tower’s weight. All work on the tower was halted and it wasn’t until more than a century later when construction resumed to counteract the tilt.

When visiting the Tower of Pisa, never miss the chance to have a photo op with the tower in the background, or of you pushing the tower to one side or trying to hold it up. You can also climb to the very top and take in the spectacular views of the Duomo, the Arno River, and Pisa’s beautiful landscape.

Pisa Baptistery

Located in Piazza dei Miracoli, the Pisa Baptistery is the biggest in Italy. The structure, standing west of the Pisa Cathdral , was built in 1153 and completed in the 1300s.

The historic building is an interesting mix of two architectural styles, Romanesque and Gothic. The lower level of the baptistery is Romanesque while the upper level is Gothic, with its pointed arches. And just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the building is constructed in marble. Two major features of the baptistery are the conical dome that produces perfect acoustics within the building, and the freestanding pulpit. Made in marble and sculpted by Nicola Paisano, the pulpit is adorned with panels depicting scenes from the bible.

Duomo di Pisa

Duomo di Pisa or the Pisa Cathedral is a classic example of Romanesque architecture. Built in the 1093 and designed by Buscheto, the lower part of the cathedral features a marble facade, imposing blind arcades, and massive bronze doors while the upper part consists of rows of open arcades and rounded arches reminiscent of Moorish architecture. Located in the Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral, along with the baptistery, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the cemetery, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Campo Santo

Campo Santo

Built in 1279, Campo Santo was a burial ground for the rich and affluent in Pisa for hundreds of years. The historical structure, called the Campo Santo or Camposanto Monumentale, is located in the Cathedral Square in Pisa, Italy.

Said to be constructed surrounding soil that was transported from Golgotha during the Crusades, the Campo Santo features a well-tended lawn, an exterior wall made of 43 arches, elegant doorways, and three chapels. Frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi, Spinello Aretino and other Italian masters used to adorn the walls of the Campo Santo but most of them were destroyed during the World War II. The very few surviving frescoes were transferred to the Museo delle Sinopie in Pisa.

The Arno Promenade

Arno Promenade

One of the most photographed attractions in Pisa is the beautiful Arno River. The river is lined by streets that are dotted with well-preserved buildings that go centuries back to the Middle Ages. The promenade runs parallel the Arno River and the elegantly designed medieval structures, including towers and bridges, are a sight to behold. Take a stroll along the gorgeous promenade and explore historical sights like the De Medici Palace, San Matteo Church, and the Toscanelli Palace.

Museo Nazionale di San Matteo

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo or the National Museum of San Matteo, Pisa houses a collection of artworks spanning the early medieval period up to the 16th century. The museum’s priceless collection was started by an initial bequest made by Sebastiano Zucchetti, Canon of the Pisa Cathedral, in 1796. The collection, in its entirety, includes sculptures, ceramics, paintings, as well as illuminated books and manuscripts.

Gelateria De’ Coltelli

When travelling in Italy, it is impossible not to be swept up in gelato fever. Gelato, after all, is one of Italy’s most popular traditional desserts. Made from milk, cream, sugar, and an assortment of natural ingredients like fruits and nuts, the frozen dessert is denser, silkier, and contains less fat than ice cream.

In Pisa, you should not miss trying the unique offerings of Gelateria De’ Coltelli. Favoured by tourists and locals, the popular gelateria uses the freshest natural ingredients and offers gelato in a variety of flavours such as lime and mint, fig, ginger, licorice, hazelnut, and dark chocoloate. Gelateria De’ Coltelli clearly serves the most sublime gelato in the city.

Verdi Theatre

Built during the 19th century, the Verdi Theatre is one of the top historic structures in Pisa. Also known as Teatro Verdi, it is popular for presenting acoustically perfect live top-calibre shows and theatrical performances all year round. Considered one of the best theatres in Italy, it houses an exhibition section where visitors can view costumes, props, manuscripts, recordings, and other theatrical property.

Palazzo dei Cavalieri

Also known as the Palazzo della Carovana, the building is one of the most imposing and elegantly designed structures in Pisa. The builiding’s facade is adorned with sgraffiti, busts, and marble coat of arms. The Palazzo dei Cavalieri’s famous sculptures include the Medici Coat of Arms, situated between the works Stoldo Lorenzi. Lorenzi’s allegories date back to 1563. Also housed within the Palazzo dei Cavalieri are the half-busts of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The busts of the Medici dukes were sculpted by Ridolfo Sirigatti, Pietro Tacca, and Giovan Battista Foggini.

Knights’ Square

The Knight’s Square or the Piazza dei Cavalieri is one of the most iconic landmarks in Pisa, Italy. Once the seat of political power in Pisa, the Knight’s Square is now home to one of the most prestigious universities in the city, the Scuola Normale Superiori di Pisa.

Well-loved by tourists and locals who appreciate history and tradition, the Knight’s Square is located in Central Pisa and is unmistakable given its spectacular Renaissance architectural design. Aside from the University, there are eight other buildings with the square, and the stunning Church of Santo Stefano – known for its ornate wooden ceiling – is one of them.

Off to a much-deserved trip to Pisa? Spice up your tour with these exciting activities.

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