Deep in Tuscany, Italy, on the right bank of the river Arno right where it pours out into the Tyrrhenian Sea, you will find Pisa, the capital city of the Province of Pisa. This delightful city is perhaps best known for its iconic monument "the Leaning Tower of Pisa" but there is a lot more to Pisa than just one unusual but spectacular building.
The origins of Pisa are unknown but what is known it that it has long seen a variety of sea trade and that it was considered to be an old city by the time the ancient Romans came into power. It was the only port along the cost from Genoa to Ostia at the time and took advantage of this. In 180 BC it became a Roman colony and in 89 BC, a municipium. It was around this time that the existing colony was first fortified. Because of its complex river system, Pisa was easy to defend and it managed to avoid or defer many of the conflicts that troubled the rest of the country. By the 11th century Pisa was a mighty maritime nation. It was an important commercial center and controlled a large merchant fleet and navy in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, while this status bade them well financially, it also brought conflict. Pisa survived many hundreds of years of battles, skirmishes and wars. Despite the occasional conquest Pisa managed to survive as a mighty commercial center though its maritime strength declined dramatically. Over time it lost much of it's control over neighboring lands and eventually lost its independence. Today Pisa survives as a province and city of Italy and its lack of progress is evident in its population numbers which have remained virtually constant since the Middle Ages.
Pisa may not be going anywhere in a hurry but it does make for a fascinating destination. Despite being home to the famous Leaning Tower, it was also the birthplace of Galileo Galilei and the artistically brilliant Campo dei Miracoli or 'Field of Miracles'. The beautiful Duomo cathedral and the Baptistery are two interesting religious buildings, though there are many more. Architecturally speaking, Knight's Square, the Palazzo Della Carovana, the Santa Maria Della Spina, the Palazzo Gambacorti, the Medici Palace and the Palazzo Reale are real treasures. There are also several museums and galleries which house many fine treasures and are worth seeing. Visit Pisa on your next trip to Italy and discover this legendary old maritime city for yourself.