Pisa is an Italian city most famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, there is so much more to the city than this one architectural oddity. Here are some of our favorite places to visit in this beautiful city.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
As mentioned, the city is famous for its Leaning Tower, which is a must visit location. The Tower is a campanile or freestanding bell tower of the city’s cathedral. It is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square and is famously known for its exaggerated tilt. The tilt began during construction caused by an inadequate foundation, which was too soft on one side to properly support the structure. Efforts in the late twentieth century stabilized the slope and partially corrected the tilt.
Baptistery of St John
Travelers can also visit the largest baptistery in all of Italy, the Baptistery of St. John. As the name suggests, this minor basilica is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The building is considered the oldest in the city, existing since the eleventh century. The architect Doitisalvi designed the Baptistery in the Florentine Romanesque style.
The Baptistery is mainly known for its three sets of bronze doors with sculptures, created by architects Pisano and Ghiberti. In fact, Michelangelo named these doors the Gates of Paradise. The location also saw the baptism of many famous Renaissance artists, such as Dante.
Knights Square was the political center of medieval Pisa. The site obtained its name after the sixteenth century when it became the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Now the Square is a center of education in the city. It is home to the main house of Scuola Normale di Pisa, a higher learning institution part of the University.
Museo Delle Sinopie
The Museo Delle Sinopie is home to the preparatory drawings and the frescoes of the Monumental Cemetery, the graveyard of Pisa. The frescoes were the works of several artists including Buffalmacco, Bonaiuti, Veneziano, Aretino, Gaddi, Puccio, and Gozzoli. The artistic works once covered the walls of the cemetery. However, the fire of a 1944 bombing damaged and destroyed many of these frescoes. Workers removed the art for urgent restoration and found the preparatory drawings beneath the frescoes remarkably preserved.
Museo Nazionale di San Matteo
The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo displays artistic works for historic buildings dating back to the early medieval period in the city and province of Pisa. The collection includes sculptural masterworks by Nicola Pisano and Donatello. There is also a display of a rich collection of antique paintings including works by Volterrano, Martini, Traini, Angelico, and Ghirlandaio among others. Other collections on display include the medieval illuminated manuscripts, wooden religious sculptures from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, and antique ceramics.
The Arno Promenade that, as the name suggest, straddles the Arno River. All of the streets that go along the Arno tend to be youth hotspots and interesting points of reference for the tourists. One can find fantastic buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. Towers, bridges, and buildings, in spite of their actual Renaissance appearance, feature medieval aesthetics which an observant tourist can see.
Museum of Ancient Ships
In 1998 there was an astounding discovery of the remains of an urban harbor. Excavations so far uncovered sixteen ships, restoring nine of these that are now on display at this museum. No other examples of such well-preserved ancient ships from the first century BC exist. The excavation also uncovered the cargo of the ships, including its perishable goods like ropes, rigging, fishing equipment, anchors, baskets, and fishing pots. Typically these types of items do not usually survive centuries of burial, but the conditions of the ground in this location, mixed with the absence of oxygen, managed to preserve even the most fragile objects.
Italy is a fantastical country that offers so many amazing cities to explore. Be sure that if you ever have the chance to visit that you will take the time to appreciate the city of Pisa and all of its wonder.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Many places in Pisa are popular and can get crowded. Parents should check ahead of time to any location they wish to visit for times that are less crowded.
- Pisa is a place full of history. Parents should look for guided tours that go in-depth into the history of these locations, especially if anyone in the family is a history buff.
- Kids should be quiet and respectful in religious areas
- Due to strict regulations, visitors cannot bring in bags when entering the famous tower. All personal items except cameras and wallets need to be left in locked lockers.
- Parents should be advised the tower is seven stories high and there is no real spot to stop and rest once you start climbing .