An incredible example of beauty, Pisa renews its timeless charm every day. Say Pisa and the Leaning Tower immediately springs to mind, as well as famous Piazza dei Miracoli, known as such worldwide ever since Gabriele D’Annunzio referred to it as «campo dei miracoli» due to the harmonious relationship between the various buildings it consists of. It is not by chance in fact that it is always thronged by tourists in every season of the year, at every time of the day and night, although the Pisani claim the best time to visit it is in the early morning, when no-one is around and the light that filters through the mist highlights the marble white of the landmarks and the bright green of the lawn. Nor is it a coincidence that the whole site with the Tower, the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Cemetery has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage site.
But Pisa is not just its Tower. Whoever decides to visit the city is forced to walk along the Arno banks. Among the main landmarks is the Church of Santa Maria della Spina. Also known as Chiesetta della Spina due to its small size, it is a wonderful example of Pisano Gothic dating back to the early 1200s although it has undergone many renovations over the centuries. It owes its name to the fact that it holds a thorn (“spina”) which apparently was part of the crown worn by Jesus at the Crucifixion and brought here in 1333.
Continue along the Arno eastbound, just before getting to Ponte di Mezzo, between Lungarno Gambacorti, via Toselli and piazza dei Facchini, and your attention will most certainly be attracted by the colourful façade of Palazzo Blu, one of the most picturesque architectural complexes of the town. The historical complex covers over 4000 sqm and owes its name exactly to the unusual “sky blue” colour of the façade, dating back to the late 1700s. Formerly Palazzo Giuli Rosselmini Gualandi, it is nowadays owned by Fondazione CariPisa which has turned it into its headquarters and its rooms house the Foundation’s art collection as well as some of the most visited temporary exhibitions in Italy.
An obligatory stop is at the medieval Piazza dei Cavalieri. In ancient times it represented the centre of civil power. From the mid XVI century it became the headquarters of the Order of Saint Stephen’s Knights. Today it is a cultural and study hub due to the presence of Pisa’s Scuola Normale.