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The Duomo and Baptistry at Pisa

Chiesettaspina at Pisa

The Duomo on the
Campo dei Maracoli

Welcome to Pisa
From Jesses' Journeys in Italy

Population: 85,379 (2003)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Pisa
Map: MapQuest  Pisa #1 Pisa #2

Writing about Pisa is a tough job.  Millions of travelers have been there, and millions more are on their way. The reason: the "Leaning Tower of Pisa".  Also, there's an increasingly busy airport at Pisa, served by various low cost airlines, disgorging hundreds and hundreds of passengers every day.

Let's put it this way, if you go to Pisa from June to September, you will be rubbing shoulders with a lot of people.  Still...

Believe it or not, Pisa began life in about 1000 BC as a seaport. In the 2nd Centure BC, the  Romans used it as a naval station and trading port.  By the 11th Century the city had evolved into a major maritime power, rivalling Genoa, Venice and Amalfi.  The Pisans raided and overwhelmed Amalfi in 1135, putting an end to Amalfi's maratime claims.

The Pisans were themselves defeated - by Genoa - in 1284, a defeat which started the City's  steady decline.  That decline was hastened when the River Arno, on whose banks the city stood, began to silt up.  The Florentines took control in 1406 and retained it until the unification of Italy in the 1860s.

During its long period of prosperity, much of its wealth went into building some of Italy's most important and monumental buildings.

The famously leaning tower is the bell tower of the Duomo whose construction took over 200 years, starting in 1173 AD.  The soil under the Tower started to subside on one side even during construction, and remedial efforts were ongoing up until 1999, when a solution was found.  (Don't ask us what it was.)

The tower, the baptistry and the huge Duomo (100 yards long, with a massive nave, flanked by two aisles and 68 monolithic columns, are in the Romanesque style.  The pulpit, considered by many as the most beautiful in Italy, was carved by Giovanni Pisano, who also did much of the carving in the baptistry.

They sit together around the Campo dei Miracoli - or "field of dreams", an expansive grassy area.  Most tourists venture no further.  They should.

The city boasts one of the oldest universities in the world, and was the birth place of Galileo Galilei.  There are many cafes, trattorie, boutiques and flea markets.  Quality - well, tourist grade.  (If you want a great dinner, save your appetite and travel 15 km north to Lucca).




2km (14 miles) S of Lucca; 81km (50 miles) W of Florence; 334km (208 miles) NW of Rome.

The Pisa airport attracts many flights from other parts of Europe, including Gatwick and Stanstead in the UK.


Tower of Pisa: Tower


The leaning tower of Pisa


Tell us about your trip to Pisa.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine?  Contribute