Located 42 miles (67 Km) from Florence, Italy is the historic town of Pisa home to the highly photographed Tower of Pisa. Even though it is one of the smaller cities of Tuscany, Pisa may be one of the most important and influential in the entire region after rising to prominence in the 11th century. When you find yourself in Tuscany you can't miss the opportunity to take the short trip to explore all that Pisa has to offer. We had the opportunity to explore this legendary city and see more than just the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In order to learn more about Pisa we did a walking tour with Queer Tuscany Tours, founded by licensed tour guide, Francesco Calanca. His tours emphasize the “Queerstory”- as he likes to call it - "which isn’t just about hidden history of the Gay & Lesbian community, but also a tool that delves into neglected themes of history." For example, when we visited the beautiful Baptistery, we learned about a small engraving, which could easily be overlooked, that is said to mark the meeting place for gay men cruising.
PIAZZA DEL CAVALIERI
Another historical site we visited was the Piazza del Cavalieri which has a rich LGBTQ+ history. During the year 1979, a march was organized, that started in the square outside the Piazza, to oppose violence against homosexuals after the murder of a local gay man. This movement was the first protest in Italy supported by the municipality.
Located a few blocks from the Arno River is the colorful Tuttomondo mural on the back wall of Sant'Antonio Abate church created by American artist, Keith Haring. The mural was one of his last before his death in 1990.
Walk along the Arno Promenade (Arno River) to see the picturesque architecture and the church of Santa Maria Della Spina. This small gothic style church is located just on the edge of the Arno River and was built in 1230. The church formerly housed a thorn relic from the "crown of thorns" that Jesus Christ wore on the road to Calvary. The thorn has since been moved to another church, Chiesa di Santa Chiara.
SQUARE OF MIRACLES
As cliche as it is, you can’t visit Pisa without stopping by the Piazza die Miracoli or Square of Miracles, a beautiful square that Is home to remarkable and iconic architectural buildings. The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be the most recognizable however the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Baptistery are two others that you must see. You can't prepare yourself for how beautiful and detailed the architecture within the square is. We definitely didn't expect to turn the corner and be stunned by not only the tower but also the accompanying cathedral and duomo. Since this is a highlight for tourist who visit Pisa, you can expect larger crowds with tons of people taking their own iconic "holding up the tower" pictures, so be prepared. If you want to ascend the tower, it’s best to reserve tickets in advance.
There is so much to see and do during a visit to Pisa. Take advantage of your time in Tuscany and spend a day in Pisa to explore all the city has to offer. To learn more about attractions, tours and other cities in Tuscany check out VisitTuscany.com!