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Tourist Information

About Pisa
The History
The Town
"Certosa di Calci"
(location of the Social Dinner)
"Chiesa di San Francesco"
(location of the Welcome Reception and of the Conference Lunches)

About Pisa

Baptistery Pisa is known throughout the world because of the Leaning Tower, the symbol of Pisa, visited every day by thousands of people. The Duomo and the Tower tell much of the history of the city: they represent excellent expression of the so-called Pisan Romanesque style, which brings Oriental suggestions and decor to the simplicity of the Romanesque style. However few tourists know the other Pisa, the city that Pisan people have built and lived in. No way to understand what Pisa is today without having an idea of what it has been through the centuries:Etruscan settlement, Roman city, a medieval commercial harbor, a powerful Maritime Republic, a bitter enemy of Florence, Lucca and Genoa, a magnificent noble city in the 17th century, a host town for many artists in the 19th century, an excellent University town in the last few centuries. Despite the town has very important Etruscan elements, many Roman remains, Gothic churches, magnificent Renaissance building, it is actually a vibrant young city centre.

The History

The area was first settled by the Liguri and was then inhabited by the Etruscans who left many imprints of their passage. Then Pisa become a coastal town and a very important Roman port. As it is clear looking at the present layout of the ancient part of the city centre.

Maritime Republics Coat In the Early Middle Ages, Pisa was a very lively port and a rich commercial centre. Moreover, it was one of the four Maritime Republics (the other three were Genoa, Venice and Amalfi), which fought each other for control of the Mediterranean Sea. This was a period of victories and wealth for the city, which had colonies and commercial bases all over the Mediterranean coasts and was feared and respected. This period of the city's history (11th and 12thcentury) is celebrated every year with a Regatta, a strongly felt competition between teams from the four cities, which practice all year round in preparation for this important day. The Regatta (Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare) is held in Pisa every four years: each year, in turn, it is hosted in one of the four Maritime Republics.

Guaraldi Tower After several glorious centuries, Pisa started to decline in power and wealth in the 13thcentury. The conflicts with another Maritime Republic, Genoa, resulted in a very bad defeat in the Meloria battle (1268), which signaled the beginning of the loss of influence as a maritime power. In the same period, the conflicts with the Guelph cities in Tuscany began, along with serious internal struggles for the control of the city. One of the most famous and hated characters in the history of Pisa is Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, whose story is told in Dante's Divina Commedia (Devine Comedy). He was accused of treachery at the Meloria battle, but few years later he became Lord of Pisa. In 1289, the Archbishop ordered his imprisonment. He was locked up in the Guaraldi Tower with his children and grandchildren and left there to starve. library of the Scuola Normale Superiore The legend says that he ate his children and grandchildren. Actually, this is an allegory - or so we hope! Today, where the old Guaraldi Tower used to stand, there is the beautiful library of the Scuola Normale Superiore and a plaque commemorates this sad story.

During the 14thcentury, Pisa continued to suffer battles and revolts. The date that all Pisans remember is the October 9th 1406 , when the hated Florentine Army entered the city and Pisa was placed under the rule of Florence where it remained until the creation of the Italian state in 1861 .

In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries Pisa continued to grow with its University, which is one of the most prestigious in Italy and in Europe. The city was badly damaged by bombing during World War II, but it is now being totally restored and brought back to its ancient splendor.

The Town

Pisa's city center is divided by the River Arno - that passes through Florence and flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Marina di Pisa - in two halves, two neighborhoods:

  • Mezzogiorno south of the river contains the historic quarters of Sant'Antonio and San Martino.
  • Tramontana north of the river contains the historic quarters of Santa Maria and San Francesco.
The 12th century city walls, which are considered among the longest walls built in the Middle Ages, enclose these neighborhoods. Pisa started to expand outside the city walls only at the beginning of the 20th century, therefore all of its history is within the ancient town boundaries. Centuries debris from the river have moved the coast 12km away from Pisa. However, "Pisa" and " seamanship " remained synonymous for much longer, and even now, Pisa is one of the major centers in Italy for shipyards. The " Darsena Pisana " , the Pisan Dock, still represents a very lively part of the local economy and is still visible from the highway leaving Pisa's Galileo Galilei International Airport.

Certosa di Calci

The village of
Calci stands on the slopes of Mt. Pisano in what is called Val Graziosa, where you can visit the beautiful "Certosa di Calci" or Charterhouse. Founded as a monastery in 1366; this complex was later expanded, owing its present appearance to work carried out in the XVII and XVIII centuries. The period of greatest splendour for the Charterhouse was the XVIII century, suppressed at the beginning on the 19th century by Napoleon I when it was reoccupied by Cartusian monks through 1972. The building was clearly based on the typical model of the Cartusian monastery; the architects were often the monks themselves, best able to interpret the organizational and religious aspects of life in the Charterhouse. The contrast between hermitism and cenobitic life, which at an architectural level, required a spatial linkage between solitude and the community life, was represented by two symbolic elements: the cell and the church.

Chiesa di San Francesco

San FrancescoThe church of St. Francis, designed by Giovanni di Simone, built after 1276. In 1343 new chapels were added and the church was elevated. It has a single nave and a notable belfry, as well as a 15thcentury cloister. It houses works by Jacopo da Empoli, Taddeo Gaddi and Santi di Tito. In the Gherardesca Chapel are buried Ugolino della Gherardesca and his sons.

San Francesco San Francesco San Francesco