Itinerary: Pisa, Piazza dei Miracoli, Leaning Tower, Tuscany
Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, a place of art and beauty
Declared human heritage by UNESCO in 1987, Piazza dei Miracoli (pic n°1)(pic n°2) is the main tourist attraction in Pisa, and one of the most favorite Tuscan destinations. The real name of this square is actually Piazza del Duomo. Piazza dei Miracoli (in Italian 'Square of Miracles'), a name that dates back to 1910 when Gabriele D'Annunzio (a famous Italian writer and poet) talked about this square's monuments as miracles. Since then, the square has been chiefly known as 'Piazza dei Miracoli'.
What are those miracles that D'Annunzio praised in his novel? The square is home to some beautiful structures that represent the main religious, cultural and artistic attractions of the city: the Duomo or Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, (pic n°5) the Baptistery (pic n°4), and Camposanto Monumentale (the Monumental Cemetery) (pic n°6). These three buildings also act as symbols of the human life stages: birth (the baptistery), life (the cathedral), and death (the cemetery).
Of course, the main attraction of the whole square is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, (pic n°3) which actually serves as the bell tower of the cathedral.
The square, whose current appearance is attributed to architect Alessandro Gherardesca and became definitive in the eighteenth century, is walled, paved on the sides and grassed in the middle. It is where lots of locals and students like to relax, study or just admire the sacred beauties and the hundreds of tourists who funnily pose in front of the camera as if they were holding the leaning tower.
The Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Saint Mary of the Assumption) is the main model of the Romanesque architecture in Pisa. Its construction started in 1064 by architect Buscheto. The splendid and elegant decorations in the inside convey the Byzantine influence and simply leave every visitor breathless. Do not miss a deeper look at the magnificent carved pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, the mosaics, and the paintings. According to beliefs, Galileo has formulated his theory about the movement of a pendulum while watching an incense lamp swinging from the ceiling of the central nave. When outside, do not forget to admire the massive bronze gates and the façade, built with gray marble and white stones.
Then, head to the famous Leaning Tower, which is located just behind the Cathedral. Its construction began in 1173, and 5 years later, a part of the subsoil collapsed, so, that is the reason why the Tower of Pisa stands in this unconventional inclination that makes it famous all over the world. The tower houses seven bells cast to the musical scale and, although it is just about 55 meters high, climbing 294 steps up to its top allows visitors to enjoy an amazing all-round view of the city.
The Baptistery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist stands right in front of the Cathedral. Its construction began in the twelfth century according to the Romanesque style. Two hundred years later, some parts were added by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni, giving to the building a more Gothic appearance. The main features are the paintings on the lintel, the beautiful pulpit, and the great, albeit rather plain, interiors.
After a visit here, also pay a visit to the graveyard. It features a charming Gothic cloister, two beautiful doorways, sarcophagi of Roman origins and tombs that host noble citizens of Pisa, another magnificent pulpit, some fine frescoes, the above-mentioned lamp that inspired Galileo Galilei, and much more. For all these reasons, this monumental cemetery is considered as one of the most beautiful ones in Italy and in the world. According to traditions, it was built in the thirteenth century on some sacred soil from the place where Jesus was crucified.
There are other attractions in the square, like Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (the Cathedral Museum), and all of these places are open to visits. A day here will be devoted to spirituality, art, culture, traditions, and history: do not miss it when in Tuscany!
Some pictures of Pisa:
Panoramic View (pic n°1); Panoramic View Piazza Miracoli, Pisa (pic n°2); Leaning Tower (pic n°3); Baptistery, inside (pic n°4); Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, interiors (pic n°5); Camposanto Monumentale (the Monumental Cemetery (pic n°6);