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Basic information

  • Area: 185 km² (71.4 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +39
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Population (EST): 87,506
  • Official language: Italian
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Pisa – Places to Visit

Leaning Tower

Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of this tilting Romanesque bell tower, one of Italy’s most enduring symbols. Situated in Pisa’s Cathedral Square, construction started on the building in 1173, and continued in stages before being completed in 1319. Its infamous “lean” occurred early in the process, but was salvaged by an innovative architect (Giovanni di Simon), some one hundred years later, who redesigned the additional floors to give the building back its balance. If you are feeling fit, visitors can join a tour and take a trip up the three hundred steps to the top of the tower. Views are especially spectacular in the early evening, when the sun drops and the city is bathed in golden light.

Pisa Cathedral

Neighbouring the Leaning Tower is Pisa’s Cathedral or Duomo di Pisa, another of Tuscany’s greatest architectural treasures. With its fine marble façade, the Cathedral is one of the earliest examples of Romanesque style, inspiring countless copy cat buildings in the region. Although the Cathedral’s original interior artwork was destroyed in a fire in 1595, visitors can still enjoy breathtaking renaissance frescoes and a gorgeous gilded ceiling. A main highlight of has to be the magnificent cast bronze doors at the main entrance, that intricately illustrate a number of biblical scenes.

Santa Maria Della Spina Church

Rising from the banks of the Arno River are the intricate spires of Santa Maria Della Spina, one of Pisa’s most charming churches. Constructed in breathtaking Gothic splendour, the church was built for the sole intention of housing one of the thorns (spina means thorn) from Christ’s Crown. Small but perfectly formed, the fabulous façade is a contrast to its somewhat simple interior, and although no longer holding the original relic, is still home to some sculptural masterpieces.

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

For those wanting to delve a little deeper into the history of finest sights, need look no further than the Museum of the Cathedral or Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Housed by a gorgeous old convent, the museum’s galleries are filled with fabulous religious art and artefacts that once were displayed by Pisa’s cathedral, baptistry and tower. Treasures include 12th century carvings, ornate Moorish influenced marble decorations, a crucifix from the crusades and some spectacular pieces by Giovanni Pisano.

Cemetery

Despite being badly damaged by artillery in World War II, Pisa’s cemetery or Camposanto is definitely a quiet highlight of any trip. Enclosed by imposing white marble walls, the cemetery is believed to contain earth from the Holy Land, brought to the city by crusaders, and due to its sacred status became for centuries the resting place for Pisa’s most prominent people. Although many of the original frescoes are gone, a number of fascinating ancient Roman sarcophagi remain alongside grand cloister corridors and a haunting sense of stillness.