Pisa’s name derives from an Etruscan word meaning “outfall”—the outlet formed by a river as it flows into the sea. Every four years Pisa celebrates its maritime origins by re-enacting naval battles between the four historic republics (Pisa, Venice, Genoa and Amalfi) during the Historic Regata on the Arno River.
The Piazza dei Miracoli
(Square of Miracles) is home to many of the city’s most beautiful attractions. The baptistery shares the piazza with the imposing Camposanto (sacred burial ground) whose 43 blind arcades face the square. To the right of the Camposanto is the marble-covered cathedral, a masterpiece of Pisan Romanesque architecture built in the early 1600s. The famous Leaning Tower rises directly behind the cathedral. Not to miss
Construction on the baptistery was initiated by architect Diotisalvi in 1152 and was not completed for another two hundred years. The baptistery houses Nicola Pisano’s renowned marble pulpit. Fun fact: Stand on one side of the baptismal font and make a sound with your voice—note how one sound will echo in various tones throughout the baptistery.
During the Middle Ages the rounded Piazza dei Cavalieri was the civil and political centre of Pisa. The piazza is home to the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa Normal School), the Torre della Muda (made famous by Conte Ugolino’s tale in Dante’s Inferno) and the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri.