Pisa: So much more than the leaning tower
Pisa first belonged to the Longobard kingdom and later to the Carolingian empire. Already an important naval base in the Roman era, from the 11th century Pisa intensified its Mediterranean trade, with numerous victories of its fleet over Muslim cities and ships.
The Mediaeval Era coincided with the height of its economic, political and artistic growth, to which the urban planning of the old centre bears witness by its many religious and civic buildings, its squares, its typical narrow alleys that run perpendicular to the River Arno, the great trade route that for centuries represented the economic heart of the city.
The city walls, whose construction began around 1154-1155, were completed in the mid-14th century and today represent an important part of the architectural heritage.
In 1406 Pisa was conquered for the first time by Florence, thus beginning a long period of profound crisis that ended only with the political ascent of the Medici nobles. From the second half of the 16th century there was a recovery characterized by the development of the University, founded on the orders of Lorenzo II Magnifico at the end of the 15th century.
Cosimo I de’ Medici and his successors renovated the aspect of the squares and churches, rendering Pisa the second capital of Tuscany, until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
How to get to Pisa
Pisa has regular trains to and from Florence (usually three per hour), to and from Lucca (usually every hour) and is also accessible by bus, and has an international airport.
Pisa Airport “Galileo Galilei” is the main airport of Tuscany and is served by several airlines operating hundreds of weekly flights to national and international destinations. Numerous companies offer charter flights to and from a number of European and non-European destinations. Flying to Pisa is really cheap and easy: the most recognized low-cost airlines serve Pisa. The airport is close to the city center – it takes only a few minutes to reach the center by bus, train or taxi. It is even possible to walk to the center, which takes around 20 minutes.
There are regular buses around town, including from the train station to the Field of Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli). Attractions are within a half hour walk of each other. Local bus tickets are available at Tobacco shops; there are also vending machines both at the station and the airport.
There’s a vast collection of car rental agencies at the airport. While you won’t need a car in the city itself, it can be a good choice if you want to go around Tuscany from Pisa. To get to the car rental offices take the shuttle bus in front of the airport’s arrival hall. It’s to the right, close to the city bus stop.