Pisa : the history

Pisa is in the North West side of Tuscany, it covers an area of 187 Km2 and counts 90,000 inhabitants. Being at just 11 Km from the Mediterranean sea,  allow you to enjoy rewarding tours on the beautiful coast. Pisa is situated in a central position between the sea, the “Pisan mountains” and two rivers cross it: the Arno and the Serchio rivers. Pisa has always had a major role in Italian history. Burial stones and little statues of the V-III centuries B.C witness its Etruscan past. Conquered by the Romans, in the II century A.C. Pisa has always been regarded as a major communication centre as a main passage between Rome, the northern italy and the ” Gallia “. Main importance was given to the harbour which was a safe place for their ships in the northern Tirreno sea. It became “colony”, obtaining the roman citizenship, and then “City Hall” (I century A.C.) and was regarded as a loyal city. Public and private palaces had been built since the era of Augusto the emperor, but we find the most beautiful ones at the time of Antoninus Pius and Hadrian the emperors. Very close to the tower we can find the ruins of the Baths of Adriano (II century A.C.). As far as the origin of Christianity the tradition tells us that Saint Peter himself arrived by boat (probably in the year 44 or 61) at the mouth of the Arno river where,later, the church of “San Piero a Grado” was built (sightseeing are possible see open tab). When the Roman empire fell also the prosperity of Pisa decayed. Struggles against the barbarians followed but the port went on working with its commercial activities. Pisa battled for a long time against the Saracens but in 1046 they were finally defeated with the conquest of Sardinia island, followed in 1052 by the one of Corsica island. In 1063 the Pisan forces captured in the port of Palermo six Saracens boats loaded with valuable goods, fighting successfully around that town. Part of the booty obtained during this war was used to begin the construction of our famous Cathedral. Pisa reached its peak in 1115 with the conquest of Balearic islands. This is the era when the construction of the marveillous piece of art and architecture, known as the “Piazza dei Miracoli”, began. Pisa had  been always fighting with Genoa for the control over the Mediterranean sea, but unfortunately it was defeated by its rival during the famous “Meloria battle” in 1284. In 1406 Pisa was conquered by Florence and the population began deacreasing owing to the voluntary exile of those who didn’t resign to the new domain…(still today, in  a mild form, this old rivalry can be found …). The town was completely dominated by the Florentines and all the commercial activities began decreasing. With Cosimo De Medici I Pisa rised to a new life. The University was developed (1543), the agriculture was enhanced and in 1561, Cosimo founded the sacred and military Order of the “knights of Santo Stefano” which gave new life to the sea trading activities. Under the domination of the last Medici family members, however, the pisan economy declined evidently and, moreover, a terrible plague epidemy lasted from 1630 till 1633. After the The Medici dynasty’s end in 1737, the Lorena family took its place and for Pisa a period of economic wellfare began.