Set at the confluence of the Arno and Serchio rivers as they reach their end in the Ligurian Sea, Pisa's history has always been attached to the water. No one is quite sure when Pisa was founded, but Virgil mentioned it as a city of antiquity in his Aeneid and Etruscan remains have been discovered here as well.
The Romans colonised Pisa in 180 BCE. The city soon rose to prominence as a port, continuing to grow even after the fall of the Roman Empire. Pisa passed peacefully through the hands of the Byzantines and the Lombards as it went about its commercial business. In the 11th century, the power of Pisa was such that it began to look outside its borders, conquering Carthage and Corsica, and defeating Genoa to become a real force in the Mediterranean.
In the 15th century, Pisa fell under the control of Florence and the powerful Medici family, and subquently the arts and sciences flourished here thanks to heavy investment, particularly at the university. Galileo Galilei was born here in 1564. Although his family moved to Florence while he was still a child, the philosopher, physicist, and mathematician returned to his home city in 1589 to become head of mathematics at the prestigious University of Pisa. It was during his time there that he is rumoured to have conducted his famous gravitational experiments by dropping objects from the leaning tower.
Despite heavy bomb damage in the Second World War, the city’s main attraction, the Piazza del Miracoli, survived almost completely intact as visitors today can see for themselves.
It is easy to think of Pisa as nothing more than the home of the leaning tower, but this Tuscan city offers a lot more than just a glimpse of the askew architectural masterpiece. So take a flight to Pisa and enjoy the Romanesque architecture, green parks, luxury shops, and food and wine fit for the Medici. Also with a holiday in Pisa, if you ever bore of the city’s charms, you can explore the beautiful Tuscan countryside, visit the artistic mecca of Florence or take in the wine region of Chianti.
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