Yes, everyone has probably heard of Leonardo Bonacci (also known as Fibonacci), the man who discovered the finite mathematical interpretation of the infinite Golden Mean. Regarded a sage by many scholars, Fibonacci, conveniently for us, was born in the very city that we are going to talk about today: Pisa.
With a metropolitan population of just over 200,000, Pisa is located in Tuscany, Central Italy (only a one-hour drive away from Florence), pierced by the River Arno (the one that passes through other famous cities such as Florence and Empoli as well). Stretching upon an area of 185 square kilometres, the city does not suffer from suffocating overpopulation (not counting the throng of tourists of course). Its narrow streets and moody terraces do nothing but draw the attention of thousands of visitors from abroad (not to mention the grandeur of the Leaning Tower).
Pisa has an interesting climate due to its position – it is located between the humid subtropical and the Mediterranean climate zones. This means that its summers are as hot as they can get whilst its winters are mild and wet. Summer months are generally dry or completely void of rain. This is quite a feat if you consider the rest of Italy, where summers are occasionally tinged by hefty thunderstorms. Mosquitoes can get pesky if you are close to the river but if you are well-prepared, they should not cause too much trouble.
Pisa is served by the eponymous Pisa International Airport (also known as Galileo Galilei Airport), located at a 20-minute walk from the city centre. Funnelling more than 4.8 million passengers each year, it is but the 10th busiest airport in Italy. If, however, you have gigantic bags and you would like to take a bus or a cab, you can find both of them in the vicinity of the airport. Taxi fares should cost no more than 6-8 Euros (however, do keep an eye out for possible pirate cabs – always urge drivers to start their metres) and the buses are even cheaper at 1.20-2.
Pisa does have car rental services but we highly discourage tourists to use them because the city is completely walkable and, to be quite frank, that is the way it should be experienced. To bring what we have just stated into perspective, let us tell you that it has over 20 historical churches scattered all around (mostly admirable if one is on foot). If you take to those moody little streets with your rented car, you might miss out on a great deal of grandeur and fine detail. Not to mention the fact that everything is reachable with a short walk. Being eco-friendly sometimes has situational benefits like these as well (wink).
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
Yes, we know that we cannot hide the elephant in the room any longer, so we are going to put it out there as it is: the main attraction of Pisa is the Piazza dei Miracoli, no matter how grandiose the rest of the city might be. Containing the Fab Four of Pisa’s landmarks (the Pisa Cathedral and its Leaning Tower, the Pisa Baptistry, the Campanile, and the Camposanto Monumentale), the walled, 8.8-hectare area is also known as Piazza del Duomo. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, it is one of the most visited places in Europe. Italian writer and poet Gabriele d’Annunzio gave the place its name, calling it “prato dei Miracoli” (meadow of miracles) in his 1910 book “Forse che sì forse che no”. We recommend that you check out each of the 4 components of the Piazza on your own for they are all fabulous.
Next up (after you’ve swallowed every nook and cranny of the Piazza dei Miracoli), make sure that you hop over to the Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), the second main plaza of the city. After the mid-16th century, it has become the main headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen and that is where it got its name from. Besides the revitalising open space, one can bask in the brilliance of the following landmarks there: the Torre dei Gualandi (also known as the Muda Tower), the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri (also known as the Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri), the Statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici, and the Palazzo del Collegio Puteano.
After the two aforementioned places, you might feel that you have already seen a lot, but wait, there’s more! Before you leave the city with your inevitable photo trying to hold the Leaning Tower in place (wink), make sure you hop over to the National Museum of San Matteo. Dedicated to art and archaeology, the establishment is also an important historic site. Works on display all pertain to medieval artists up to the 16th century. Notable figures whose works are represented there include: Ghirlandaio, Berlinghiero Volterrano, Giunta Pisano, Simone Martini, Francesco Traini, Beato Angelico, Benozzo di Lese, and many others.
After Pisa, we assure you that you will be full of amusing yet meaningful experiences. The grandeur that lurks around every corner cannot escape any tourist there and we hope that you take the time to visit as many places on your own as you can (remember Fibonacci and the Golden Mean). Always follow your heart and explore on your own – never let mere articles direct your path. We serve only as humble beacons to your scintillating inner voyeur. Safe travels!