Pisa is a city which rises in the western part of Tuscany. One of the provincial capitals in the region, Pisa covers a total area of 185.27 km² and is home to 87,500 people.
Located just a few kilometres from the mouth of the Arno River, Pisa lies in the heart of the Valdarno, in a territory bordered to the north by Monti Pisani.
Etruscans first set down the foundations of the city of Pisa in the exact location it is today. An economic centre for the Roman Empire, thanks to its strategic position, Pisa proved to be an excellent starting point for trade with the major cities of the time. Then Pisa fell into the hands of the Lombards and Byzantines, who slowed its economic growth and development. Pisa’s luck looked up when it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, thanks to policies implemented by the Medici family and remained that way even in 1861, when it joined the Kingdom of Italy.
Pisa’s cultural and historical importance needs no introduction. A symbol of architectural feats and artistic magnificence not only in Tuscany, but all of Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is recognised across the world and draws millions of tourists to this quaint little city each year. The Leaning Tower is actually a bell tower built to accompany the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Also known as the “Tower of Pisa,” the building owes its fame to its characteristic slope, which was caused by the sinking of one section of land which supports it. Beautiful not only because it leans to one side but also for its ancient origins, the tower and the annex of the church date back to 1100. Standing in the heart of the famous Piazza dei Miracoli, the tower and the square have both been recognized as World Heritage Sites since 1987.
Unbeknown to most tourists, Pisa does have other secular and religious buildings that are not as famous as the tower but almost as beautiful and breathtaking. Among these is the Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista, which also stands in Piazza dei Miracoli and was also built in 1100; the Camposanto, a monumental building which, according to legend was made from a small piece of the Holy Land transported by back by members of the Fourth Crusade; the Church of San Frediano, dating back to 1060 and home to an extremely valuable 12th century crucifix; the Church of Santa Maria della Spina , constructed in 1230 in Gothic style; the Church of San Nicola, flanked by a 13th century bell tower; the Church of St. Paul, whose construction began in 952 in Romanesque style; the Palazzo della Caravan, designed by Giorgio Vasari; the Palazzo del Collegio Puteano; thePalace of the Council of the Twelve; and the Tower of Muda.