plays a main role from an artistic point of view: here the
renawal in architecture, in sculpture and painting anticipate
the florentine movement of the renaissance: the famous Leaning
tower of Pisa, castles, churches, monasteries, all scattered
on the top of hills along the rivers and in the ancient
streets. The natural and environmental heritage is particularly
attractive: in the area you can visit the Natural Park of
Migliarino- San Rosssore, Massaciuccoli, the Pisano Mountain,
the Hills, the Coastline at Marina di Vecchiano, Marina
di Pisa and Tirrenia The thermal baths are an attractive
proposal too: Casciana Terme,
Larderello, San Giuliano and Uliveto
Terme. In its streets, squares, churches and palaces,
Volterra maintains elements characteristic of different
historical periods: from the Etruscans to the Romans from
the Middle Age to the 18th century.
Rising 4 m. above sea
level on the banks of the Arno river, on a fertile alluvial
plain, this town is approximately 10 km. from the Tyrrhenian
A centre of ancient origin, Pisa
was already an important port in Roman times, definitively
asserting itself as a seagoing power in the 12th century
when it became a Republic after participating in the First
Crusade. It extended its influence over the whole Tuscan
coast and Sardinia, succeeding in defeating its rival Amalfi
and the Saracens. This period was the start of the town's
phase of greatest economic prosperity and artistic splendour.
Mountains of Pisa
It is a small mountain chain toward the north-east of Pisa,
situated between the valleys of the Arno and of the Serchio
and the river bed of the ex-lake of Bientina. Some researchers
think it is one of the most ancient mountain chain. The
territory is characterized by: vineyards, in the lower part
of it, olive-groves, chestnut woods, oak-woods, beech-woods,
alternated by pine-woods.
In the 13th century, the antagonism of Genoa, Lucca and
Florence soon had a negative effect on the power of Pisa,
which to after defeat by the Genoese at Meloria, was radically
After a period of domination by the Signorie,
the town's decline culminated with its defeat by Florence
and foremost is, without doubt, the Campo dei Miracoli (Piazza
Duomo), one of the most famous sights in Italy and the world.
Here lies the Duomo (11th-12th century), one of the major
examples of Romanesque-Pisan art, with five aisles and housing
important works of art such as the pulpit by G. Pisano (early
14th century) and the tomb of Arrigo VII (14th century);
close by stands the world-famous Leaning Tower (bell tower,
started in 1173), an elegant round construction; the Romanesque
Baptistry, to a circular plan and the Camposanto (13th century),
unfortunately damaged during the last war, housing extremely
fine frescoes (14th and 15th century).
An active centre
of culture favoured also by excellent road and rail links,
Pisa has an active industrial sector: engineering, textiles,
pharmaceuticals, glassandpottery, foodstuffs and building.
There is also lively cultural activity linked to the University
and Scuola Normale. At all times, Pisa is thronged with
Storica di S. Ranieri (17th June), Opera and art exhibitions
at the Giardino Scatto, Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare
(every four years), Galileo Galilei Award (autumn).
Famous People: Galileo
Galilei (scientist, 1564-1642), Antonio Pacinotti (physicist,
1841-1912), Ippolito Rosellini (Egyptologist, 1800-1843),
Giovanni Pisano (sculptor, 1250-1314), Antonio Pisanello
S. Matteo National Museum (Tuscan sculptures and paintings
of 12th to 15th centuries), Mineralogical Museum, Paleontological
Museum, Museo delle Sinopie, Zoological Museum, Domus Mazziniana,
Domus Galilaeana, University, Scuola Normale Superiore.
In the Province: S. Miniato (environmental interest), Cascina
(industry), Pontedera (engineering), Volterra (city of art,
Palazzo dei Priori, Etruscan Museum, Accademia dei Sepolti).
The town of Pisa is
of Etruscan origin. In 179 B.C. it became a Roman colony
and in 89 B.C. a Roman municipium. Pisa was an important
naval base for the Romans. In the Middle Ages it was an
important citta marinara, i.e. a port, just like Venice,
Genoa and Amalfi. Each of these towns had both a merchant
fleet and a navy, which controlled all the seas around Italy
Pisa reached its greatest
peak of splendour in the XI and XII centuries when it expanded
its power over the islands of Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia.
In addition, it controlled all the Tuscan coast from Portovenere
to Civitavecchia. During the first Crusade (1096-1099) its
military and commercial power expanded also eastwards and
during the XII century some colonies were founded along
the same routes followed by the Crusaders. At this time
also some small industries developed in Pisa, especially
those involved in the processing of wool and leather.
In 1162 Pisa became
a free commune with its own statutes, and it was in this
period that a new architectural style was born. From the
XI to the XIV century the arts, and especially architecture,
flourished. Some wonderful buildings were erected, such
as the Cathedral, with the contribution of great artists.
One of these was Nicola Pisano, the greatest Italian Gothic
sculptor, who started a school that influenced all the Italian
sculpture of that period.
1284 Pisa was defeated by Genoa in the Battle of Meloria
and so a period of decline began, which terminated with
the subjection of the town to Florence. Under the Florentine
rule of Lorenzo il Magnifico, the town knew a new period
of splendour and the urban landscape underwent important
transformations. Wonderful buildings in the Renaissance
style were erected and in 1472 the University was founded.
In this university Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) taught Physics,
thus starting an importan scientific tradition that still
continues in Pisa today. At the end of the XIX century the
town extended outside the boundary of the old town-walls.
Pisa suffered from great damages during World War II.
The quarter south of
the river Arno was completely destroyed. So most of the
urban shape of the town, as we see it today, is due to recent