There are two forms of tourism. One where you go and stay in the place for a while. In the second case, where the Erasmus students go and maybe aren´t rushed to visit everything and forget to see some things. There are places I visited, but lived experiences and places that were part of the environment, like sitting on the lawn of Pisa and improvising a meal from the supermarket. When you find a ball and play a game with the shadow of the Leaning Tower as arbitrator it is normal and when you go back home and see the photos you feel like you can lose yourself but you discovered all that isn´t shown in the tourist guides.
We left Assisi to Nimes and back to Spain quite early in the morning. We had to travel more than 900 kilometers and before we wanted to talk a little walk around Pisa. We arrived around noon, just to park the car outside and head to the most famous monument of the city, the DEI piaza MIRACOLI or Square of Miracles to see the Duomo, the Baptistery, the cemetery and of course the Leaning Tower or bell tower of the cathedral. There are places like this that can turn out to be boring, trying to relate the characteristics of each monument to what was written about it and you can´t discovered anything new. For that reason i´m only going to try to put some photos in which I will try to show what we saw in only two hours.
The interior has nothing to do with the French or Spanish Romanesque. At the time, Italy had a very different architecture and Romanesque ornamentation than we're used to. In Italy, there was much more brightness, the buildings were taller and the presence of windows was important, which are a lot of factors that our Romanesque lacked until the Gothic style came along. But the most surprising thing about the interior is the black and white marble, which is very typical in Italy, as well as the wooden gilded coffered ceiling from the 17th century. Don't miss the Pantocrator in the apse, from the 16th century, and the pulpit, a masterpiece of Giovanni Pisano, from the early 14th century. The huge granite Corinthian columns between nave and apse are of the mosque of Palermo, spoils from the battle of "Cala" in 1063. There is also a huge apse mosaic of Christ by Cimabue from 1302, which survived the fire of 1595.
Along with the Tower of Pisa and the Bapisterio, this is one of the most interesting monuments of the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa. It is a Byzantine-style rectangular building surrounded by tombs and Medieval and Renaissance-style sculptures, with some frescos saved from the fires of World War II. You can visit for 5€ with a ticket.
Built in 1230, it was originally known as Santa Maria di Pontenovo. The name of Spina (the spine) is derived from the presence of a thorn, a relic allegedly belonging to Christ's crown of thorns, which was brought here in 1333. In 1871, the church was moved and rebuilt at a higher level, to keep it safe from the waters of the River Arno. During the process, the church was slightly altered. It has a single nave with a nineteenth century painted ceiling, and in the centre you can see one of the greatest masterpieces of Gothic sculpture, the Virgin of the Rose, by Andrea and Nino Pisano. Another of their statues, the Madonna del Latte, was here, but was moved to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo.
If you arrive by plane to Pisa at a normal time you won´t need to catch a taxi to go where you will be staying. The city is very near, and in the same terminal there is a window to buy bus tickets and train tickets. If you go to Florence, you can buy a ticket in the same terminal. The bus goes by every few minutes for one Euro to Pisa Central Train Station, from where you can take almost any train. There are two buses that go to the airport, one that goes at night (until 11 at night more or less) and both pass constantly by the Pisa Central station. At the stop are the times and routes. To not pay a fine, and as I said, you have to know that there are bus tickets from a machine that's inside, the driver tells you nothing and occasionally a reviewer comes inside . Instead train tickets are checked on the platform before boarding. If you arrive at night I recommend staying at the NH Cavalieri Hotel, the bus can leave you at the door in less than 15 minutes travel time.
From the airport to the station it takes less than a 15 minute journey, and you can arrive by bus, and for one euro. Here, you have the possibility of taking a train to Florence which takes an hour or more stopping at Empoli. Before you have the chance to take a look at the Piazza dei Miracoli, to see the famous Leaning Tower, the trip is about 20 minutes walking. If you have to spend the night near the station I recommend the hotel NH Cavalieri.
The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo is another must-see place in Pisa's Piazza dei Miracoli while you wait to climb the tower. I bought the joint entrance ticket to all the local attractions, so I don't know how much individual entry costs. The museum contains sculptures and frescoes which were formerly located in the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the other buildings in the square. From the yard, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Tower of Pisa.
Between 1605 and 1608, the Torre dei Gualandi and Annex Palazzotto del Capitano became the Palazzo del Buon Uomo, the hospital of the Knights of Santo Stefano. In 1696, the Palazzo del Buon Uomo changed its name and became known as Palazzo dell'Orologio, due to the splendid clock initially situated in the steeple of the church, which was placed on top of large a breezeway, and construted on the vault linking the two medieval buildings. The frescoes that adorn the outside of the Palazzo dell'Orologio are also the work of Giovanni Stefano Marucelli.
The many medieval structures that made up the original building became immense, between the years 1562 and 1567, in this gigantic palace, but perfectly balanced. The outside is designed with rectangular windows in stone. The front was decorated with designs of graphite related with allegorical figures and zodiacal signs, which were sculpted by aides Tommaso di Battista del Verrocchio and Alessandro Forzori di Arezzo. On the 1st floor, at the end of the outside, there are 2 shields of arms of the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano, while the curvilinear tympanum of the main entrance is the coat of arms of the Medici, in which included the symbols of the Order, as Cosimo I de Medici was proclaimed Grand Master of the Order. In the center stood a staircase Vasari with 2 ramps to get to the main entrance. The ladder was based on a model designed by Michelangelo. In the year 1821, the original central staircase was replaced by a copy. Until the year 1718, some marble busts of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany of the Medici dynasty were added. The busts of Francesco I, Ferdinando I, Cosimo II, Ferdinand II and Cosimo III, were delicate carving niches under the windows of the top floor. These were made by Tuscan sculptors such as Pietro Tacca and Giovan Battista Foggini. Currently, the magnificent Palazzo della Carovana is home to the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, founded by Napoleon Bonaparte as a university, academic-based model of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.
This small church stands near the Piazza dei Cavalieri. Officially consecrated in 1133, it once hosted the Council of Elders. Today, it is a real historical gem, and one of the city's best-preserved buildings. It is a stone building with three naves, and granite columns.
Few know that in this city there is a church with an octagan floor, located on the shore of the Armo River, and constructed in the middle of the XII century by orders from the Knights, by the same architect ve made the baptistery. It has three doorways and the construction is crowned with a tower in the shape of a pyramid.
This museum is located on the banks of the Arno River, before arriving at the church of Santa Maria della Spina. It is a new museum, and I haven't been able to find much information about it online. It has a permanent collection of furniture and decorative objects, as well as temporary exhibitions.
The San Frediano Church, constructed in 1061, having 3 ships, houses a XII century crucifix. During a renovation they added 16th century paintings, including works by Ventura Salimbeni, Domenico Passignano, Aurelio Lomi, and Rutilius Manetti, among others. It is situated a few meters from Piazza Dante, and is the church beloning to the university.
The Museo Delle Sinopie is located in the Piazza del Duomo across from the Tower of Pisa. I bought the special ticket that gives access to all the square's museums and monuments, except the tower, so I don't know how much the individual entry costs. At the museum, you can see original sketches of the works that adorn the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and others. There's also an exhibition of old costumes. Not a must-see, but worth a visit and small enough to see quickly.
Most travelers don't even need to ask themselves what to do in Pisa, because the most famous Pisa attraction is its internationally famous monument. And yes, of course, for most people Cathedral Square is top of the list of stuff to do in Pisa, because this is where the famous Leaning Tower stands, ready for photo opportunities.
The tower is actually the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (also known as the Duomo of Pisa), which together with the baptistry and the Camposanto form the spectacular architectural complex of white marble that has brought fame to the city.
But there's more to Pisa than just the tower! In another square nearby, the Piazza dei Cavalieri, you'll find more things to see in Pisa. Do not miss the Clock Palace and the church of San Stefano. Continuing the tour we reach the shore of the Arno River. In the "lungarni" (streets running parallel to the river) you can see the medieval features of old Pisa.
If we cross the river by the Ponte di Mezzo we encounter two popular religious attractions in Pisa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of San Martino. And another one is on one of the banks of the Arno River, the church of Santa Maria della Spina.
For more exciting Pisa activities, at the end of the Arno river is San Rossore Park, a protected area of forest and mountains open all year. Walking tours, horseback rides, biking, trains, and even floating tours are offered at the park. The park is also home to the Pisa Racecourse, active between the months of October and March. Other places to visit in Pisa are Marina di Pisa, a seaside resort just 10 kilometers from the city, and the famous island of Elba.
Use minube and discover all the things to do in Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo Galilei.