Pisa was possibly founded by the Etruscans or Ligurians, but became a Roman colony in 180 BC. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, it remained the urban centre of Tuscany. In 1564, renowned astronomer Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the city’s most famous landmark, was started in 1173. The people of Pisa were shocked when it began to lean due to weak clay mixture at the base, and construction stopped for 100 years.
Things to do
Your first destination in Pisa should definitely be the Square of Miracles. Formally called the Piazza del Duomo, this walled square has four stunning landmarks. The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn’t just for looking at from the outside – you can venture inside and wander up a long spiral staircase which leads to the bell tower at the top and magnificent views of the city. Just next to the tower, you’ll find Pisa Cathedral, a massive marble Cathedral built in the Romanesque style with four rows of arches and columns above the entrance’s tall doors. Inside, there are Corinthian columns, an intricately carved pulpit and Medieval art. The Pisa Baptistery is Italy’s largest baptistery and known for its acoustics (choir concerts can be heard from miles away), while the Camposanto – or Monumental Cemetery – is a Gothic graveyard with underground indoor tombs for Pisa’s nobles. With the Square of Miracles, you can get an education in Pisa’s religious history in a couple of hours.
Outside the Square, Pisa has an array of other attractions. Visit the Knight’s Square – the centre of political action during medieval days – and the Orto Botanico Di Pisa, a tranquil botanical garden owned by the University of Pisa.
Shopping and dining
Pisa has boutique shops with fancy brands. Take a wander to the shopping streets Corso Italia and the Borgo Stretto. Want a cheaper option? Browse the second-hand clothes at the open-air markets like Via San Martino and Marina di Pisa. Meat lovers and fish fanatics will be more than happy with Pisa’s variety of restaurants offering the tasty flavours of Tuscany.