A (not so) short travel guide to Pisa

You will find below some useful information and suggestions to make your stay in Pisa as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, grouped in the following sections:

General information about Italy (top)

Timezone is GMT/UTC +2 till the end of October.

The local currency is the Euro (the symbol is Ç ; 1 Euro ~= 1.36 US Dollars, but the rate fluctuates between 1.3 and 1.4). It comes in coins (1-2-5-10-20-50 cents, 1-2 Euros) and notes (5-10-20-50 and, less common, 100-200-500). Amounts are generally rounded to the next 5c. The currency is used across several EC countries so especially the coins may carry local symbols. The notes are the same in all countries. More info on the notes at the European Central Bank.

The local language is of course Italian, with no strong dialect spoken. English is mostly understood and (slightly less often) also spoken. It helps to use the customary accessibility strategiessentences not too convoluted, not cutting the ends off of words, and using a few visual effects (gesturing) in case you see a blank face on your interlocutor.

Our unit system is based on the SI system, with distance measured in meters, weight in kilos, volumes in liters, time in seconds, and temperature in Celsius degrees. As a rough conversion, 1 km = 0.62 miles, 1 kg = 2.2 pounds, 1 liter = 0.264 gallons. A pint is roughly 0.47 liters, but the equivalent of a pint of beer (birra media) is normally just 0.4 liters. We also strictly follow the decimal system, so there is no such a unit as one third of a meter or 1/32nd of a kilo.

AC Voltage and Plugs
AC Voltage is 220 V, 50 Hz. Standard plugs have three round pins in-line with the grounding pin in the middle. Schuko plugs are also used, though they are less common. Some standard plug receptacles can also accommodate schuko plugs. See here for more information on plugs/sockets

The expected climate in mid-October is still mild, with highs in the 21C range (69F) and lows in the 11C (51F). Occasional showers and thunderstorms are possible. No need to bring an umbrella, however: if it starts raining you just buy one from any street seller for a few euro.

Tipping and Receipts
As it is a major deviation from the custom in the US, we would like to point out that tipping is neither required nor expected in Italy: the bill (conto) always includes service, and the personnel do not expect to make their living from tips. So, particularly in bars, restaurants, and taxis, it is perfectly fine to pay exactly the amount on the bill, or possibly round it up by say 2-5% depending on the amount to make the numbers round. Italian law requires businesses to release, spontaneously or at least on demand, a receipt (scontrino fiscale or a ricevuta fiscale) with date, sequence numbers, and identification of the business. A note scribbled on a piece of paper is not valid, and possibly a hint that the place is trying to exploit your lack of knowledge of the rules.

Shops, Banks, Credit Cards, and ATM Machines
Shops are open Monday to Saturday. Some may be closed on Saturday afternoon, others on Monday morning. Opening hours are roughly 9.00-13.00 and 16.00-20.00, although some do not close at lunchtime. Banks and public offices are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 to 13.00. ATM machines (bancomat) operating 24/7 are located close to bank offices, and are generally very easily reachable. Credit cards are generally accepted everywhere. In small businesses (e.g., pizzerie) it may be wise to ask first. Customers may be requested to show a valid ID when using a credit card.

Telephones (top)

Number formats and prefixes
Italian phone numbers have variable length, both in the prefisso (prefix, used to be the area code) and in the local part of the number. The prefix must always be included, even for local calls.

Emergency numbers
These can be called from any phone, without the need for prefix, coins or residual credit.

Calling from cell phones
Definitely the most convenient and economical way of calling abroad in most cases. Italy adopts GSM and UMTS systems that use respectively 900/1800 MHz and 1900/2100 frequencies, so if you have a suitable phone you can use your regular subscription to make and receive calls. Roaming charges are very high; 1-2 per minute are not uncommon. You can buy prepaid SIM cards (no subscription necessary) for use in your phones in most telephony stores by just showing a picture ID (which will be photocopied in accordance with a law requiring identification of users of SIM cards). Apart from special offers, typical sign-up fees are around 10 and include 5 of call credit. Tariffs vary depending on the plan you choose, and they are exceedingly complex to compare. Incoming calls are always free, outgoing calls normally have a connection fee (up to 20-25c per call) and a per-minute rate which depends on the destination but can easily be in the 25-30c range or more. The most common cell phone operators are Vodafone, TIM and Tre.

Calling from hotels
Same as everywhere, charges for phone calls from hotels vary. Some hotels will just apply the tariffs of the telecom operator (normally up to 10-40c connection fee, 10 to 40c per minute for local/western Europe/US calls), others might apply a surcharge. We suggest you check with your hotel.

Calling from public phones
Public phones are rapidly vanishing these days, except in airports and train stations. They might be coin-operated (in which case they give no change in return for partially used coins) but more often will take a calling card (carta telefonica), on sale in some bars, newspaper kiosks and tobacconists, or sometimes a credit card (squeezing out a fair bit of money from it, as in most places in the world).

Calling cards
Several types of prepaid international calling cards (carta telefonica internazionale), often specialized per call destination (e.g., Asia, Africa, East Europe, South America, etc.) can be purchased in tobacco shops. They can be used from public phones.

Internet Access (top)

Internet points
There are a number of internet points in the central part of the town (Via dei Mille) and in the station area.

Public wireless access
TIM and Vodafone and a local company called Nettare offer monthly subscriptions for wireless internet access in some areas in town. The coverage is all but widespread, and the fees are generally high and well hidden in the respective websites.

Several Italian providers offer free dialup internet access, charging only an amount comparable to or less than the charge for a local call. The access numbers change with the provider but start with the 702 prefix. In order to get an account you have to supply your identification information to the provider in a registration procedure (a legal requirement), after which you will receive a free account. Among the providers offering this service are Tiscali, Wind, and others.

Hotel access
The situation varies here as well. Most hotels still offer only dialup access (but you need to get the dialup access information and an account in advance, e.g., with one of the above providers). Some of the newer hotels also offer wireless connectivity (for free or for a daily or hourly fee) in the lobby, or possibly also in the rooms (sometimes this in-room connectivity is wired).

Local transportation (top)

While in Pisa, you'll have a choice between local bus service, taxi, and bike to move about town, and bus, train and rental cars should you wish to visit surrounding places. Additionally, since the points of interest are very close together, you may want to consider just walking around. 

Local bus service
The official website of the transit authority is linked here, but unfortunately it is in Italian only. Nevertheless, you may find there a useful map, which you can print and keep with you while moving around Pisa. Note that all buses stop at the train station, and Lam Rossa (Red Line) runs between the airport and Piazza dei Miracoli.

Daytime schedules are regularly paced (i.e., if you are waiting more than 20 minutes to catch a bus, then either you are at the wrong bus stop or there is a strike...), so you probably will not need a timetable.

Before riding a bus, remember to buy a ticket in a tabacchi (usually, there is a big "T" outside such shops) or an automated machine or a newspaper shop. The fee for a regular ticket in the metropolitan area (biglietto urbano orario) is 1,00 euro. If you did not buy a ticket, you can still catch a bus, but you must ask the driver for a special ticket (1.50 euro).  A regular ticket allows you to use any CPT bus for a cumulative duration of (maximum) one hour since the ticket has been stamped. In fact, as soon as you catch the first bus of your trip you have to insert the ticket into the yellow stamping machines inside the bus. This will print the starting date/time of your travel on the ticket itself. If you forget to stamp the ticket you may incur a violation fee.

The cabs typically stand at the train station, airport and piazza Arcivescovado (near the tower). Taxis can be phoned at +39 050 541600, which requires following instructions (in Italian) from an automatic answering machine. No, there is now way to speak to a human operator.

Hotel Shuttles
Most hotels are equipped with minivan and offer (normally for a fee) transportation from/to places downtown. Please consider this service if you plan to arrive or leave at some inconvenient hour.

Shared cab (Taxi collettivo)
In addition to regular taxis, there is also a shared minivan service between the airport, train station and Piazza del Duomo. However (long list of howevers): there is only one car in service, accommodating only 8 people; tariffs depend on the location (from 3 Euros up); it is not a door-to-door service, and not all locations are coverede.g., if you need to go to a hotel which is not on the normal route, they request at least 3 people for the same destination). In other words: think of it as a bus.

Given the small travel distances, bikes constitute an excellent travel means within Pisa. They can be rented from Eco Voyage, Via della Fagiola, 41 - Ph.: +39 050 561839, +39 339 7607652. Do not leave bikes unattended (or poorly locked).

Non-local buses
Connections to nearby towns and villages (Tirrenia, Marina di Pisa, Livorno, San Giuliano, Lucca) are supplied by two bus companies (CPT and Lazzi), and by train. The buses to Tirrenia, Marina and Livorno start their last runs around 23.00, while those to Lucca and San Giuliano typically start their last runs around 21.00. Intercity buses depart from the main bus station in Piazza SantAntonio, close to the train station. Terravision operates an express coach service from Pisa Airport to Florences Santa Maria Novella train station

The city has three train stations: Pisa Centrale, Pisa Aeroporto and Pisa San Rossore. Pisa Centrale is the main train station and is located along the Tyrrhenian railway line. It connects Pisa with important cities such as Rome, Genoa, Turin, Naples, Livorno and Grosseto, but also with Florence. There are different types of trains stopping at Pisa Centrale: regional trains (treno regionale), which may stop in small stations; inter-regional trains (treno interregionale), which generally stop only in major stations; and fast, long-haul trains (Intercity, Eurocity and Eurostar). Pisa San Rossore links the city with Lucca and Pistoia, also reachable from Pisa Centrale. It is a minor railway station located near the Leaning Tower. From Pisa San Rossore it is possible to reach Lucca in just 25min. Some trains to Florence stop here, but it is a very slow line. Travelers to Florence are advised to take a faster train from Pisa Centrale. Pisa Aeroporto connects the airport to the central train station. Details on train schedules can be found on the Trenitalia website (www.trenitalia.com). Direct trains to/from Florence are very frequent and convenient (once per hour, travel time is 1hr). Going to/from Siena takes at least two hours (often 3) and requires a connection in Empoli.

Most car rental companies are based at the Pisa Airport. Italian cars normally are manual-shift. You can find driving maps with decent Italy coverage at Google, Mapquest, Yahoo (in Italian) and possibly more. Note that most of the city center either is a pedestrian zone or has restricted car access (with surveillance cams), which makes cars most viable for travelling outside Pisa.

Eating and Drinking in Pisa (top)

In Italy, you normally have lunch between 12.30pm and 2pm, and dinner between 8pm and 10pm. Meals normally consists of two main courses: the first one (primo piatto) is normally pasta or rice, while the second one (secondo piatto) can include fish, meat, vegetables, etc. Side dishes (contorno), frequently vegetables, are ordered separately. Single courses (piatto unico) are sometimes available.
Pisa offers the usual variety of bars and restaurants that you find anywhere, from very inexpensive to very expensive. Of course choice is commensurate to the size of the town, and also influenced by Pisas status as both a university and tourist town. As a consequence, two categories of bars and restaurants are well represented: those targeted to students and locals, which generally specialize in lunches (sandwiches or pasta or fixed-price menus); and those targeted to tourists, which generally focus on appearance and service in order to attract those one-time customers.

In general, bars are very popular during morning hours for coffee (or variants) and pastries. They are typically open between 6 or 7am and 8pm, though especially in the central part of the town, several remain open at night as well, or switch to pub mode during the night time.
Coffee is the main drink consumed in bars. You generally cannot choose the blend other than normale (with caffeine, the default) or decaffeinato (decaf). The default size is espresso (very short) served in a ceramic cup. You can still multiply your choice by asking for it lungo (tall), and have it al vetro (served in a glass cup), and optionally macchiato freddo (with a little bit of cold milk) or macchiato caldo (with a little bit of warm, foamy milk, as the milk in cappuccino). Then you have cappuccino (a lot of warm, foamy milk with coffee in it, in a large ceramic cup) and latte macchiato (a glass of warm milk with coffee in it). A latte is just a glass of milk, and you can ask for it caldo (warm) or freddo (cold).
The options for pastry vary a lot depending on the place. In Tuscany, at the register you just say un pezzo dolce to indicate that you want a piece of pastry, then you specify at the bar which one. Typically you will find a kind of croissant, very different from the French ones, either empty or filled with a little bit of marmalade or custard. Other popular items are the sfoglia (made of puff pastry, typically with a filling of custard, rice, or ricotta) or also the budino di riso (made of pasta frolla and with a filling of rice). Just a warning that in many bars the pastry is industrially made and thus tastes old or dry. The good places are those that make the pastry themselves, and an easy way to tell is to look at the variety of choices (e.g., the presence of bigne, cannoli, etc.).
Apart from coffee and pastry, of course you will find bottled water (either flat or sparkling, sold by the glass or 500ml or larger bottles), sodas (apart from the usual Coke and orange soda, you will find some peculiar flavors such as chinotto, cedrata (cedar) and ginger; also popular, sold by the glass, is a soda called spuma - either blonde, orange or cedar). And of course beer and wine and all sorts of alcoholic drinks. Ice cream is a popular food in Italy and there are some good places for it in Pisa, called gelaterie. You can also find ice cream in bars.

These are mostly located in the central area of the town along the river. The choice of beers is generally limited, and they often offer a limited choice of foodtypically sandwiches and fries. During the warm season, (April to October) it is very popular for them to sell drinks (in plastic glasses) to be consumed sitting or standing on the rivers banks. Here, as in restaurants, tipping is neither expected nor required.

Restaurants and Pizzerie
Prices for a meal here vary between 10 and 30 euros depending on the place and on your selection. Remember that typically (but it should be specified on the menu), you must add 10-12% to the listed prices for service, and (not for pizza places) another 2-3 euros for bread and cover charge. Tipping is neither expected nor required.
You can find three types of pizza in Pisa. The Neapolitan style is very tasty and good, but unfortunately, very few places know how to make it. The traditional way to make a pizza in Pisa is to put it into a pan with a little bit of oil on the bottom, and then cook it in the ovenas a result it is tasty and soft but totally different from the Neapolitan-style pizza. It is often sold al quarto (in slices) as takeaway. Then there is the third kind of pizza, very thin and not as good as the other two.
A popular item, sold in pizza places, is the cecina, a salty cake made with chickpea flour, typically eaten alone, or as the filler in the schiacciata (round white pizza).
Following is a list of pizzerie and budget restaurants.

If you are looking for more traditional restaurants with decent prices and average quality, you can try the following:

High-end Restaurants
The restaurants below are on the high end of the price spectrum, and this list is not comprehensive. Some of them offer fancy cooking and/or a good selection of wines, but we suggest to double-check and look them up in travel guides, or search for customer comments on the web, because sometimes reviews suggest that the quality is not on par with the price. Following is a list of some of them, where credit cards are accepted, and (at least some) English is spoken. Advance booking is recommended.

History (top)

Pisas origins are unknown. The city lies at the junction of two rivers, the Arno and the Auser (now disappeared), that flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea, where they form a lagoon area. The Pelasgi, the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Ligurians have variously been proposed as founders of the city. Archeological remains from the 5th century BC confirm the existence of a city at the sea, trading with Greeks and Gauls. The presence of an Etruscan necropolis was discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibaldi in 1991. The maritime role of Pisa should already have been prominent if the ancient authorities ascribed to it the invention of the rostrum: it took advantage of being the only port along the coast between Genoa, then a small village, and Ostia. Pisa served as a base for Roman naval expeditions against Ligurians, Gauls and Carthaginians. In 180 BC it became a Roman colony under Roman law, as Portus Pisanus. In 89 BC, Portus Pisanus became a municipium. Emperor Augustus fortified the colony into an important port and changed the name to Colonia Iulia obsequens. From 313 it became the seat of a bishopric.
In the 7th century Pisa began its rise to the role of main port of the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea and became the main trading center between Tuscany and Corsica, Sardinia and the southern coasts of France and Spain.
Although formally part of the duchy of Lucca, in 930 Pisa became the county center (status it maintained until the arrival of Otto I) within the mark of Tuscia. In 1003 Pisa was a participant in the first communal war in Italy--against Lucca, of course. From the naval point of view, beginning in the 9th century, the emergence of the Saracen pirates urged the city to expand its fleet: in the next years this fleet gave the town an opportunity for more expansion. The power of Pisa as a mighty maritime nation began to grow and reached its apex in the 11th century, when Pisa acquired traditional fame as one of the four main historical Marine Republics of Italy (Repubbliche Marinare).
In 1017 Pisa took Sardinia, in alliance with Genoa, by defeating the Saracen king Mugahid. This victory gave Pisa supremacy in the Tyrrhenian Sea. When the Pisans subsequently ousted the Genoans from Sardinia, a new conflict and rivalry was born between these mighty Marine Republics. Between 1030 and 1035 Pisa went on to successfully defeat several rival towns in Sicily and conquer Carthage in North Africa. In 1051-1052 the admiral Jacopo Ciurini conquered Corsica, provoking more resentment from the Genoans. In 1063 admiral Giovanni Orlando, coming to the aid of the Norman Roger I, took Palermo from the Saracen pirates. The gold treasure taken from the Saracens in Palermo allowed the Pisans to start the building of their cathedral and the other monuments which constitute the famous Campo dei Miracoli.
A Pisan fleet of 120 ships also took part in the first crusade, and the Pisans were instrumental in the taking of Jerusalem in 1099. On their way to the Holy Land, Pisa and the other Repubbliche Marinare took advantage of the crusade to establish trading posts and colonies in the Eastern coastal cities of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.
In the following years Pisa was one of the staunchest supporters of the Ghibelline party. This was much appreciated by Frederick I, who granted the Pisans freedom of trade throughout the whole Empire. This grant, later confirmed by Henry VI, Otto IV and Frederick II, marked the apex of Pisas power, but also spurred the resentment of nearby cities like Lucca, Massa, Volterra and Florence. Last but not least, such a sudden and large increase in Pisas power could only lead to war with Genoa, which had acquired a largely dominant position in the markets of Southern France. The war began in 1165 and lasted for over one century.
The decline of Pisa began on August 6th, 1284, when the numerically superior fleet of Pisa was defeated by the brilliant tactics of the Genoan fleet in the dramatic naval Battle of Meloria. This defeat ended the maritime power of Pisa and the town never fully recovered. Sardinia was also lost: the region around Pisa did not permit the city to recover from the loss of thousands of sailors. Pisa never had enough manpower for its ships, while Liguria guaranteed enough sailors to Genoa. Goods continued to be traded, albeit in reduced quantity, but the end came when the Arno started to change course, preventing the galleys from reaching the citys port up the river. It seems also that the surrounding area became infested with malaria.
Always loyal to the Ghibelline party, Pisa tried to build up its power in the course of the 14th century and even managed to defeat Florence in the Battle of Montecatini (1315). Eventually, however, divided by internal struggles and weakened by the loss of its mercantile strength, Pisa was conquered by Florence in 1406. Furthermore, in the 15th century, access to the sea became more and more difficult, as the port silted up and was cut off from the sea. Pisas role as Tuscanys primary port went to Livorno. Thereafer, Pisa acquired a chiefly cultural role, spurred by the presence of a renowned University (created in 1343). The citys decline is clearly shown by its population, which has remained almost constant since the Middle Ages.
Pisa was the birthplace of the founder of modern physics, Galileo Galilei. It is still the seat of an archbishopric. It has also become a light industrial center and a railway hub. The city suffered repeated destruction during World War II.

Science in Pisa during the Middle Ages
Leonardo of Pisa (c. 1170-1250), also known as Leonardo Pisano, Leonardo Fibonacci, or simply Fibonacci, was an Italian mathematician. He is best known for the discovery of the Fibonacci numbers, and for his role in the introduction to Europe of the modern Arabic positional decimal system for writing and manipulating numbers (algorism). Some consider him the most talented mathematician of the Middle Ages.
Leonardos father directed a trading post in Bugia, in barbaresque North Africa (now Bejaia, Algeria), and as a young boy Leonardo traveled there to help him. This is where he learned about the Arabic numeral system. Perceiving that arithmetic with Arabic numerals is simpler and more efficient than with Roman numerals, Fibonacci traveled throughout the Mediterranean world to study under the leading Arab mathematicians of the time, returning around 1200. In 1202, at age 32, he published what he had learned in Liber Abaci, or Book of Calculation. Leonardo became a guest of the Emperor Frederick II, who enjoyed mathematics and science. In 1240 the Republic of Pisa honored Leonardo, under his alternative name of Leonardo Bigollo (meaning good-for-nothing or traveler), by granting him a salary.
In the Liber Abaci, Fibonacci says the following introducing the so-called Modus Indorum or the method of the Indians, today known as Arabic numerals.

After my fathers appointment by his homeland as state official in the customs house of Bugia for the Pisan merchants who thronged to it, he took charge; and in view of its future usefulness and convenience, had me in my boyhood come to him and there wanted me to devote myself to and be instructed in the study of calculation for some days.
There, following my introduction, as a consequence of marvelous instruction in the art, to the nine digits of the Hindus, the knowledge of the art very much appealed to me before all others, and for it I realized that all its aspects were studied in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence, with their varying methods; and at these places thereafter, while on business.
I pursued my study in depth and learned the give-and-take of disputation. But all this even, and the algorism, as well as the art of Pythagoras, I considered as almost a mistake in respect to the method of the Hindus. (Modus Indorum). Therefore, embracing more stringently that method of the Hindus, and taking stricter pains in its study, while adding certain things from my own understanding and inserting also certain things from the niceties of Euclids geometric art. I have striven to compose this book in its entirety as understandably as I could, dividing it into fifteen chapters.
Almost everything which I have introduced I have displayed with exact proof, in order that those further seeking this knowledge, with its pre-eminent method, might be instructed, and further, in order that the Latin people might not be discovered to be without it, as they have been up to now. If I have perchance omitted anything more or less proper or necessary, I beg indulgence, since there is no one who is blameless and utterly provident in all things.
The nine Indian figures are:
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
With these nine figures, and with the sign 0 ... any number may be written.

In this book he showed the practical importance of the new number system by applying it to commercial bookkeeping, conversion of weights and measures, the calculation of interest, money-changing, and numerous other applications. The book was well received throughout educated Europe and had a profound impact on European thought, although the use of decimal numerals did not become widespread until the invention of printing almost three centuries later.

The University of Pisa
The University of Pisa was officially established in 1343, although a number of scholars claim its origin dates back to the 11th century. The papal bull In supremae dignitatis, granted by Pope Clement VI on September 3rd, 1343, recognized the Studium of Pisa as a Studium Generale; an institution of further education founded or confirmed by a universal authority, the Papacy or Empire. Pisa was one of the first European universities that could boast this papal attestation, which guaranteed the universal, legal value of its educational qualifications.
The first taught subjects were: Theology, Civil Law, Canon Law and Medicine. In 1486, thanks to Lorenzo dei Medici, the construction of a building for holding lessons was provided for. The buildinglater known as Palazzo della Sapienza (The Building of Knowledge)was located in the 14th-century Piazza del Grano. The image of a cherub was placed above the gate DellAbbondanza (the Gate of Abundance), leading to the Piazza, still today the symbol of the University.
The quality of the University was furthered by the statute of 1545 and the Pisan Athenaeum became one of the most significant in Europe for teaching and research. The chair of Semplici (Botany) was held by Luca Ghini, founder of the worlds first Botanical Gardens, succeeded by Andrea Cesalpino, who pioneered the first scientific methodology for the classification of plants and is considered a forerunner in the discovery of blood circulation. Gabriele Fallopio and Marcello Malpighi lectured in Anatomy and Medicine. Galileo Galilei, who was born and studied in Pisa, became professor of Mathematics at the Pisan Studium in 1589.
The Universitys development continued under the Lorenas. They completed the construction of the astronomic observatory (a project initiated by the Medicis), as well as enriching the University Library with important publications, developing the Botanical Gardens and Natural Science Museum and they established new chairs, such as Experimental Physics and Chemistry.
The annexation of Tuscany to the Napoleonic Empire resulted in the transformation of the Studium into an Imperial Academy: the Athenaeum became a branch of the University of Paris and the courses and study programs were structured following the French public education model. Five new faculties were established (Theology, Law, Medicine, Science and Literature), along with examinations, different qualification titles and graduation theses. In 1813 La Scuola Normale Superiore was established, as a branch of the Ecole Normale de Paris.
The first Congress of Italian Scientists was held in Pisa in 1839. 421 scientists and over 300 experts of various disciplines discussed zoology, comparative anatomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, agronomy, technology, botany, vegetation physiology, geology, mineralogy, geography and medicine.
With the birth of the Kingdom of Italy, the University of Pisa became one of the new states most prestigious cultural institutions. Between the second half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries the following prestigious lecturers taught at Pisa: the lawyers Francesco Carrara and Francesco Buonamici, philologists Domenico Comparetti and Giovanni DAncona, historians Pasquale Villari, Gioacchino Volpe and Luigi Russo, philosopher Giovanni Gentile, economist Giuseppe Toniolo and mathematicians Ulisse Dini and Antonio Pacinotti. The first European institute of Historical Linguistics was founded in Pisa in 1890.
During the years of fascism the Pisa Athenaeum was an active center for political debate and antifascist organization. After the second world war the University of Pisa returned to the avant-garde in many fields of knowledge. To the faculties of Engineering and Pharmacy, established pre-war, were added Economics, Foreign Languages and Literature and Politics. In 1967 the Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e Perfezionamento S. Anna was founded which, together with La Scuola Normale, formed a highly prestigious learning and teaching center.
Today the University of Pisa boasts eleven faculties and fifty-seven departments, with high level research centers in the sectors of agriculture, astrophysics, computer science, engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine. It has about 50,000 students. Furthermore, the University has close relations with the Pisan Institutes of the National Board of Research, with many cultural institutions of national and international importance, and with industry, especially that of information technology, which went through a phase of rapid expansion in Pisa during the nineteen sixties and seventies.
Among the graduates of the University of Pisa, we find:

Main sights (top)

Leaning Tower of Pisa
By far the best known sight in Pisa is the famous Leaning Tower which is but one of many architecturally and artistically important structures in the citys Campo dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles, to the north of the old town center. The Campo dei Miracoli is also the site of the beautiful Duomo (the Cathedral), the Baptistry and the Camposanto (the monumental cemetery).

Piazza dei Cavalieri
In Piazza dei Cavalieri the Palazzo della Carovana, with its awesome fašade designed by Giorgio Vasari may be seen. In the same place is the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, also by Vasari. It had originally a single nave; two more were added in the 17th century. It houses a bust by Donatello and paintings by Vasari, Jacopo Ligozzi, Alessandro Fei and Jacopo da Empoli. It also contains spoils from the many naval battles between the Cavalieri (Knights of St. Stephan) and the Turks between the 16th and 18th centuries; the most interesting being the Turkish battle pennant hoisted from Ali Pachas flagship at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7th, 1571. Also close to the square is the small church of St. Sixtus. It was formally consecrated in 1133, but had been used previously as a seat of the most important notarial deeds of the town of Pisa, also hosting the Council of Elders. It is today one of the best preserved early romanesque buildings in town.

The Church of San Francesco
The church was designed by Giovanni di Simone, built after 1276. In 1343 new chapels were added and the church was elevated. It has a single nave and a notable belfry, as well as a 15th-century cloister. It houses works by Jacopo da Empoli, Taddeo Gaddi and Santi di Tito. In the Gherardesca Chapel are buried Ugolino della Gherardesca and his sons.

The church of San Frediano
The church is noted for the first time in 1061. It has a basilica interior with three aisles, with a crucifix from the 12th century. The paintings are mostly from the 16th century restoration, with works by Ventura Salimbeni, Domenico Passignano, Aurelio Lomi and Rutilio Manetti.

The church of San Nicola
The existence of the church is known as early as 1097. It was enlarged between 1297 and 1313 by the Augustinians, perhaps by the design of Giovanni Pisano. The octagonal belfry is from the second half of the 13th century. The paintings include the Madonna with Child by Francesco Traini (14th century) and St. Nicholas Saving Pisa from the Plague (15th century). Noteworthy are also the wood sculptures by Giovanni and Nino Pisano, and the Annunciation by Francesco di Valdambrino.

The church of Santa Maria della Spina
The church, attributed to Giovanni Pisano (1230), is another excellent Gothic building.

The church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno
The church was founded around 952. It was enlarged in the mid-12th century along lines similar to those of the Cathedral. For the pale grey marble decoration ancient Roman marbles were used. The fašade was completed in the 14th century by Giovanni Pisano. It houses frescoes by Buffalmacco and Turino Vanni (14th century). It is annexed to the Romanesque Chapel of St. Agatha, an octagonal-plan, brick construction of the 12th century, with an unusual pyramidal cusp or peak.

The Arsenali Medicei
The Arsenali Medicei date back to the 16th century. They have been defined as an example of industrial architecture ante litteram, and were the heart of boat-building. The brick building lies at the edge of the historic center on the side of the river opposite the beautiful old church of San Paolo a Ripa dArno.

The Borgo Stretto
It is a neighborhood where one can stroll beneath medieval arcades and the Lungarno, the avenues along the river Arno. It includes the Gothic-Romanesque church of San Michele in Borgo (990). Remarkably, there are at least two other leaning towers in the city, one at the southern end of central Via Santa Maria, the other halfway through the Piagge riverside promenade.

The Palazzo Medici
The building was a possession of the Appiano family, who ruled Pisa in 1392-1398. In 1400 the Medici acquired it, and Lorenzo de Medici sojourned here.

The Palazzo Reale
The building was of the Caetani patrician family. Here Galileo Galilei showed to Grand Duke of Tuscany the planets he had discovered with his telescope. The edifice was erected in 1559 by Baccio Bandinelli for Cosimo I de Medici, and was later enlarged including other palaces.

Palazzo Gambacorti
This is a Gothic building of the 14th century, is now the town hall. The interior shows frescoes boasting Pisas sea victories.

The Mural Tuttomondo
This is the last public work of Keith Haring, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of SantAntonio.

Pisa boasts several museums, including:

Finally, Pisa is not far from several nearby historical towns, such as Lucca (20 km), Florence (80 km), Volterra (65 km), San Gimignano (75 km), Siena (140 km). All of these are well worth a visit.

Some links about Pisa (top)

Wikipedia: Pisa
City council
Pisa: Art and History
SlowTravelItaly: A tour of Pisa through history, art, culture, good food and ghosts!
Behind the Tower: city, sights, surroundings, and events.
Pisa travel guide
Pisa information and tourism
Opera della Primaziale Pisana
Leaning tower of Pisa
Duomo Pisa
Scuola Normale Superiore

Some links about Tuscany (top)

Wikipedia: Tuscany
Official Web site of the Tuscany Region
Tourism in Tuscany
Tuscany charming