There’s so much more to Pisa than the Leaning Tower! Here are five of the city’s hidden treasures.
Pisa: Piazza dei Miracoli, the Leaning Tower and the Lungarno. Day-trippers to Pisa usually visit these attractions and believe they have seen and know everything there is to see and know about Pisa….they haven’t. Pisa is a hidden city that conceals art and culture in the most unexpected places. Here are 5 unexpected things to do in Pisa.
1. Admire a mural by Keith Haring
One of the contemporary American artist’s most impressive murals is located right in the heart Pisa: Tuttomondo, which translates to “All the World.” Keith Haring and some with local students painted the work on the external canonical wall of the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate, near the train station. The mural depicts 30 figures who represent peace and harmony in the world.
2. See one of Christianity’s most important relics
After the Holy Grail and the Holy Shroud, the most important religious relics are those that concern the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. When it comes to seeing the Holy Grail, you have to wait on Indiana Jones; to admire the magical power of the Holy Shroud, head to Turin; and to see one of the thorns from Christ’s crown, go to Pisa. A local merchant brought the relic from Pisa to the Holy Land in 1333, and it was placed inside Santa Maria della Spina (the original name was Santa Maria di Pontenuovo), one of Italy’s most beautiful Gothic churches. To this day, the thorn is still preserved in a shrine on the left-hand side.
3. Escape from the crowd at Certosa di Calci
It is easy to be caught by sudden hysterical and agoraphobia crises when Piazza dei Miracoli is crowded with hordes of tourists. If you don’t want to give up your dose of art and culture in Pisa, but you’re not interested in joining the ranks of people who take photos near the Leaning Tower as if they were extras in the Thriller video, you can escape the crowd and visit Certosa di Calci. This wonderful monumental complex on the slopes of Mount Pisano dates back to 1366 and was expanded during the Baroque period. After having hosted congregations of Carthusian monks for centuries, the Certosa currently houses the National Museum of the Monumental Carthusian Monastery of Calci where it is possible to retrace the life and habits of monks and the Museum of Natural History.
4. Relax at the most popular Medici spas
The healing powers of Pisa’s thermal waters were already known to the ancient Etruscans. In 1743, they became very fashionable thanks to the Medici who regularly frequented the Bagni di Pisa, the summer residence of Grand Duke of Tuscany Francesco Stefano di Lorena. Take some time off in between all the culture for some Grand-Duke-style pampering at the Bagni di Pisa, today a five-star resort.
5. Enjoy excellent raw fish in the heart of the city
In Pisa, there are many signs of its ancient splendor as a Maritime Republic, one of which undoubtedly being the number of restaurants that serve excellent seafood. Of particular note is La Scaletta where Chef Dino Ricci’s creative dishes combine tradition, innovation and typical Mediterranean flavors. Don’t miss the raw fish.