While Pisa is frequently visited by tourists, rarely to these visitors gain an understanding of the rich cultural and political history of the town. Due to the popular and photogenic Campo dei Miracoli (home to the Leaning Tower), daytrippers throng to the city on a daily basis but are normally circumscribed to this very small area of the city. On this half-day Pisa Tour, an excursion from Tuscany or a variety of other Tuscan towns, we will explore not only the religious structures of the city that have made it world famous, but will delve into its dramatic political history as a Tuscan republic, its significance as a Medieval art center, and its present-day status as a university town.
We will begin at the Pisa train station, where the docent will meet the group and introduce the plan for the next few hours. The first part of the excursion will focus on the city's political past—as one of the four Maritime Republics (along with Amalfi, Genoa and Venice) who controlled the Italian coastline in the Medieval era and as the eternal Ghibelline rival against the Florentine Guelphs. We will head up the Borgo Stretto, which intersects the city and leads to the Arno River—which, flowing through the middle of the city, has always played a major role in its history and identity. In the heart of the city, we will also discuss the role of the major universities, including the Scuola Normale, considered by many to be Italy's finest educational institution.
Campo del Miracoli
The second part of the walk will be devoted to the religious complex of the Campo dei Miracoli—including the Duomo, one of the finest examples of Italian Romanesque architecture, the Baptistery, which houses the majestic baptismal fount by Nicola Pisano, and, of course, the Leaning Tower. If time allows, we will also spend some time in the lesser known areas of the complex—the Museo dell'Opera, which houses some of the masterpieces previously housed in the Basilica, the Museo delle Sinopie, a museum dedicated to the preliminary sketches that are the basis for fresco, and the Campo Santo, the Gothic burial place of famed Pisan personalities.
At the end of the excursion, your docent will be more than glad to accompany you back to the train station, or, if you'd like to extend your Pisan experience, make a reservation at a local trattoria to enjoy a traditional meal before hopping on the train back to Florence.
This walk does not cover the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you would like to set up a visit to the Tower following the walk, you can set up reservations using this link to the OPA website