There is nothing I like better than waking up in a beautiful place, knowing that I have a day of adventure ahead of me! On my second day in Pisa, I planned to explore some more of the city, and take in it’s main attractions – the leaning tower, and the Campo dei Miracoli.
Since the Campo dei Miracoli was on the other side of town, a leisurely walk was the perfect way to arrive there. I had purchased tickets for entrance into the tower beforehand. I highly recommend that anyone visiting Pisa do this, as the crowds are large there, and the number of people allowed into the tower each hour is limited. I have seen many people turned away as all of the spots were booked for that particular day. Tickets can be purchased at www.opapisa.it. This is the official web-site for the Campo dei Miracoli, and it is possible to purchase not only your tower tickets, but also tickets to the other monuments lining the piazza. Do this! Buy a ticket that encompasses them all. It’s not expensive and you will be happy that you did, once you find yourself inside of the lovely places.
Walking past the lovely church of San Michele in Borgo, one can’t help but stop and admire the facade, with it’s ancient grafitti.
Nearby is the Piazza delle Vettovaglie with it’s market during weekdays, and food shops. Unfortunately, on the Monday that I visited, it was a national holiday, so everything was closed.
I continued making my way towards the Campo.
Again, I was not traveling with a map. I was winging it, letting myself get lost in the twisting medieval streets, and I loved it!
I found myself in Piazza dei Cavalieri, which is a truly beautiful square. It is the 2nd main Piazza in the city, and used to be the center of political life in Pisa, long ago. It takes it’s name from the fact that in the mid 16th century, it was the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Now, it is home to one of the many Universities that make this city their home, and is also used for celebrations, and other civic events.
The Palazzo dei Cavalieri was rebuilt by Giorgio Vasari during the Renaissance. This is one of the University buildings now. Vasari was also responsible for the incredible frescoes on the facade of the Palazzo. The statue in front is of Cosimo I di Medici and was done by the artist Pietro Francavilla. From the Piazza it’s just a short walk to the Campo.
By now, you will know that you have arrived at the Campo dei Miracoli. Not only can you see the tower, and the other monuments directly in front of you, but you will also encounter the first major crowds that you will have seen in Pisa! This is where everyone goes. It can be obnoxiously crowded at times. The good thing is that VERY FEW people actually purchase tickets to enter the various monuments, so once you are inside, the crowds thin out. Also remember, most of these people are in Pisa only to view the tower. They arrive on buses, or trains and leave after a few hours, which is why I think it’s important to actually stay in the city. It’s just nicer after they are all gone!
Along the western edge of the Campo is the Museo delle Sinope. These are the cartoons that line the walls of the Camposanto, which we will talk about in a bit. This is a very interesting museum and basically empty of people.
The city walls line the borders of the Campo dei Miracoli on two sides.
The Battistero or Baptistry is another beautiful building in the Campo. It was constructed in 1152, and it is the largest Baptisty in all of Italy, at 54.86 m. high. What most people don’t realize is that this building also has a slight tilt to it, but it’s almost so slight that it’s difficult to notice. Do yourself a favor, and go inside. This is an incredibly beautiful space. And once inside, climb to the second level. While we were inside, a priest began to sing a classical prayer, and the sound in the space was simply heavenly! By the altar is a bronze statue of St. John the Baptist by Italo Griselli.
Still having some time before needing to line up for the tower, I headed over to the Camposanto.
see PISA – DAY TWO – pt 2