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.
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.
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. 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.