Pisa Tower and Town

Pisa Tower and Town

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It's one of the world's most famous towers.  People come to the Italian city of Pisa   in Tuscany to see the tower for only one reason –  it looks like it's going to fall over. And people   play around with that, posing for funny pictures,  holding it up, and acting silly. If it were   standing straight up, nobody would bother  to come here to see it, but it is slanted,   which makes it a fascinating object. Maybe it's  going to fall down. Why is it tilting? People are   fascinated. But this tower is only the tip of the  iceberg of things to see in Pisa. You'll discover   this city has much more to offer. The tower is one  small part of a fascinating city that we are going  

to show you in the program that we will get back  to the tower later, but first we're going to take   you on a walking tour through the beautiful town  of Pisa, walking along the main pedestrian lanes,   and ending up at the tower and the Cathedral. The  buildings are old, but the population is young,   with nearly half the people, students  at one of Europe's oldest universities.    Set in a historic location with buildings going  back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a   fascinating mix for you to discover and enjoy. The  pedestrian zone extends for about two kilometers  

from the train station through the heart of  the old town up to the tower, a place to relax,   sit back, have a drink and do some people watching  – a truly magnificent area to explore on foot,   as we'll show you in the program. Many  people visit Pisa on a daytrip from Florence,   which is ideal because it's only one hour  away by train, with frequent service. In   the Florence train station, the easiest way  to buy your ticket is just go to the machine,   put your credit card in there, punch the buttons  – very simple –and your ticket comes right out at   the bottom – much better than waiting online  at the ticket window. Find your platform,   get on board, sit down anywhere in second-class,  no seat reservations required, enjoy the scenery   as you go along. It's mostly green hills and  farmlands, quite pleasant, best to avoid rush-hour   so you'll have plenty of seats available.  Before you know it you will be rolling into  

Pisa. It's so easy and cheap by train. You do  not need to purchase an expensive tour to Pisa   from Florence on a tour bus. Just do it yourself,  and watch this video for tips on how to explore.    The train station is right on the edge of the  pedestrian zone, so it's so easy for you to get   off the train and start walking, no taxi or bus  connection required. There is a bus stop here,   but don't bother, just walk – It's easier and  just as quick, and a lot more fun. The first site   you'll come upon, right away, is Piazza Vittorio  Emmanuele II, and in our case when we arrived,   there was a beautiful fleamarket going  on with all kinds of things for sale,   including some food. That was a nice surprise. You  might not always run into it, but maybe you'll get  

lucky. The Piazza is always a popular gathering  spot, and underneath is a parking lot for almost   400 cars created after several years of  reconstruction. Now just around the corner on   via Giuseppe Mazzini look for the mural by Keith  Haring, who visited Pisa and fell in love with   the town, creating this amazing big mural. Along  the north edge of the piazza you'll find a large   popular gellateria with some of the most fresh  and delicious gelato in town, La Borsa. We've now   entered the main street of Pisa. It's the Corso.  It's the place where all the locals come out to  

shop, have a drink, get something to eat and enjoy  the passeggiata, the great strolling activity of   Italy. We started from the train station, went  to the Piazza, heading for the tower along   this dotted line route, and we're now walking  along that Corso, the busy shopping street.    There are some historic buildings and sculptures  along the way such as this statue of a Renaissance   artist Nicola Pisano in the Piazza Carmine.  We will see his work later in the Cathedral.    This street can get quite crowded in the late  afternoon, which is when were strolling along,   even on a Sunday like this when most  shops are closed. Actually the video was   photographed during several visits to Pisa.   Occasionally it was a little less crowded,  

if walking earlier in the day, but the crowds  offer ideal subject for people-watching,   with 50,000 students in a town population  of 100,000. As the Corso approaches the   Arno River it gets a little more narrow, and  curved, and then reaches the Logge di Banchi,   constructed in the early 17th century as an open  air, but sheltered, market. Back in those old   days, it was a place for selling wool, and silk,  and grains , and miscellaneous items of all types,   including some moneychangers. Now it's a very  active community space. And we happened upon   a wonderful food festival. So it's still  functioning as a market, 400 years later.  

And all the merchants were cleverly giving out  free samples to tempt you to buy something.    It's so charming to come across an authentic event  like this with very few other tourists around, and   mostly locals chatting, and eating, and creating  this inviting atmosphere for you to join them.    The loggia is right on the Arno River,  with a convenient bridge across the river   that'll bring us to the north side, as  we continue walking towards the tower.   

The views along the Arno River from the bridge  are world-famous. It's called the Longarno,   and consists of long row of Renaissance  palaces, beautifully preserved. It would   make for a nice walk along both sides of  the river, if you had the time. It's the   same Arno that flows through Florence 80  kilometers away. This bridge, the Ponte Mezzo,   offers wonderful viewpoints, so be sure to stop  and enjoy the vista with palaces on both sides.   

As we exit the bridge and cross the Longarno,  we enter the lively square, Piazza Garibaldi,   with several streets leading out from it, and a  statue of that great national hero in the center,   Garibaldi, the man who brought the country  together. Exiting the right corner of the square   into the most picturesque lane in the city Borgo  Stretto. This is the main street of old Pisa.   It's a marvelous place with arcades along  both sides, sheltering shops and cafés,   and pedestrians out for a stroll. Chiesa  San Michele was built a thousand years ago   and has a 14th-century façade. The Borgo was the  commercial center during the Middle Ages and,   from the 14th century, the rich merchants began to  build their lodges here, opening shops and taverns   to serve the public. These wealthy families  competed to build the largest, most beautiful,  

and colorful buildings. The lanes extending  from the east side are not terribly interesting   but to the west there is a wonderful neighborhood  with more arcades and little piazzas, with street   markets leading towards the University, a nice  place for a little detour. Give you a quick idea   on the map the route we're taking through little  lanes over to Piazza Dante,, to the University   and then back around returning to Borgo Stretto.   And along the way, there is more of these kiosks   selling books and scarves and handbags. There's a  medieval tower. Back in the Middle Ages there were   many, many of these high tower, s for household  defense. Via Domenico Cavalca is one of those  

charming authentic local places. It's got some  shops and apartments in a typical urban setting.    Piazza Dante is in the University District of  Pisa, in a university that is one of the oldest,   and one of the best in all of Europe. The  University was officially founded in 1343,   although there had been lectures on law in Pisa  ever since the 11th century. This neighborhood   is well-worth seeing, easily missed by the  tourist in a hurry to get to the big tower.   

Back on Borgo Stretto to the charming section of  the street with the porticos along both sides.   It's only about 200 meters long, so it's the  kind of place where you really want to slow down,   do some browsing, maybe walk up along  one side and back down the other,   because it is so spectacularly beautiful. It has  a lot of character. In some parts it's a little   shabby, other places it's sheik, with upscale  shops, a perfect place to wander aimlessly,   perhaps looking for a drink, or an ice cream,  or something delicious like you will find   at Pasticceria Federico Salza, one  of the most popular places in town.   

When you step inside you'll find a delicious  aroma of freshly roasted coffee, pastries and   chocolate. The bakery's n the right side, and on  the left is the bar with a long sandwich counter,   serving nearly 40 types of sandwiches,  savory tarts and snacks to eat at the bar   or takeout. They got started a long time ago as a  bakery, but now have a variety of foods available   including pasta, seafood, soups and salads.   Our bar is called Salza. It was born in 1898.  

Very old, old, old, old. I always stop in  with my groups for a refreshing break.    You can have a glass of wine with your  sandwich inside standing up at the bar,   or have a seat outside on their large terrace.   There's also friendly waiter service indoors at   their luncheonette in the back. Try a fruit  salad or their calamari. The outdoor dining  

terrace is the perfect spot for a relaxing snack.  You can just sit back and watch the people go by,   enjoying this wonderful ambience. But  remember, as you'll find in all Italian cafés,   there are two different price lists. It's a  little bit more expensive to sit down than it  

is to stand up at the bar for the same food. Well,  when you're sitting down your paying rent on that   chair and table, so it's probably worth it for you  if you been walking all day and you're feeling a   little tired. And there's a lot more to see on  foot. Or you could take a ride on the pedicab.    It's that kind of neighborhood that's more  for the locals rather than the tourists,   which makes it a prime destination for the  savvy traveler, a little off the beaten track.    We've reached the upper end of Borgo Stretto, and  here it widens out – worth a quick look – then we   return back and take a nice little side street  heading over towards Piazza dei Cavalieri.   

It's such a shame that most tourists who come to  Pisa never get to see this neighborhood, because   they've only come to see the tower, and they miss  everything else. Maybe they're on a half-day bus   tour from Florence, and they don't have any time.  They can't sit back at a café and enjoy a meal,   have a glass of wine, take a leisurely stroll  while looking around – and yet aren't those   some of the greatest treasures of travel?   The little side Lane has now brought us to   Piazza dei Cavalieri, an important town square  back in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,   which was a center of government activities.  And today there are many of those historical   buildings still standing. There is a beautiful  palace with a grand double staircase in front,   a major church, the Palazzo dell'Orologio  with a Clock Tower, arranged all around   this beautiful piazza. The main building  is the Palazzo della Carovana, its façade  

decorated with scrafitto painting and busts of the  grand Dukes of Tuscany. Now it's a college but,   originally it was built in the mid-16th century by  Cosimo, The First, as headquarters for his order   of the Knights of St. Stephen. On the right is the  church of the Knights of St. Stephen. The Knights   were a religious and military order founded to  fight the Moorish pirates of the Mediterranean,   to rescue their captives, and to convert these  Moors to Christianity. Both the church and palace   were designed by Renaissance architect Vasari.   The building with the arch and the big clock above   is the Palazzo dell'Orologio, also called the  Hunger Tower, because a leader of Pisa was   convicted of treason and locked up inside with his  children and starved to death. Exit the piazza on  

that lane to the left. Via Mille continues out  from the piaz, za with a whole series of arts,   and crafts, and jewelry, and clothing, and  paintings, little kiosks set up along the sidewalk   area on this pedestrian lane – some antiques and  some junk, and little knickknacks. It makes for   a fun walk as you're heading further towards the  tower. Old books and old record set up, lots of   people walking by, and especially this time of  day, it's just marvelous. It's late afternoon   and not crowded. Sidewalk restaurants available,  people strolling along passing the time of day,  

and we are making our way to the great tower.   Then we get to the end of the street and reach   our destination, the Campo dei Miracoli,  the Field of Miracles, with our main goal,   the Leaning Tower. It is really a spectacular  monument. The best angle on your photo is of   course in front of the tower, not on the side.  You want to be in front, so that it is leaning,   and especially if you're alongside the Duomo,  almost in front of the Duomo. You'll find  

that sweet spot for your great shot. Of course,  everybody's favorite game here is getting that   perfect pose, where you're holding the tower up,  or some people try and push it over, with friends   busy giving instructions about move your hand this  way, no, move it back that way, up, over, a little   lower. It's all part of the goofy fun that makes  this a photographic highlight of your vacation.   There is no end to the creative poses that people  can come up with. And be sure to get that basic  

portrait with the tower behind. These three little  babies are not angels – they're cupids that it's   the Fountain of the Puti, carved in the  mid-18th century in a playful Baroque style.    When you look up at the top of the tower,  you'll notice there are some people up there.   Well, that's because you can climb the tower.it  is open to the public and we're going to take   you up right now. Going inside the tower  is really a wonderful experience. This is  

a once-in-a-lifetime kind of activity. During the  high season, you better make a reservation online,   or if it's the off-season, you can just show up  and probably get right in, in the wintertime. And   when you go in, you climb, and you climb. You go  up these ancient steps. It's the original marble  

steps. And you just keep going around and around  and around, and sure enough you will arrive at the   top. Of course, you get a fantastic and splendid  view looking out over the old town of Pisa.    There are some bells up there. After all, this  was a belltower, campanile. The main function   originally was to ring the bell. Of course,  now the main function is to give Pisa its fame,   because it's leaning. And from the tower, you  have a beautiful view looking at the old town,  

looking down on the foliage, and you can see the  Duomo. You're above the Cathedral. It's really   a remarkable vista. We'll take you inside  this wonderful building, coming up next.    A view back at the street we walked on getting  here, and then you walk around the other side   for a view of Campo Santo, the burial grounds,  and artistic treasures containing many important   frescoes. There is no doubt you'll be completely  satisfied with your climb up the tower. In fact,   some people come here just for that reason. And  when you've had your fill, then you go back down.   It's a spiral staircase at the very top,  for the first section, quite narrow,   a little precarious. There is no railing, so you  just sorta hang on and balance yourself, and walk   down and you will get right out. Another classic  view is from the backside of the Cathedral,  

where you can get the tower and the back of the  Duomo together in one composition. Don't worry,   it's not going to fall. They fixed it. From  Porta Nuova you get a classic view framed by   the ancient gateway and the medieval wall around  Pisa. Then we see the full ensemble of the three   main buildings – the tower, the Cathedral and the  Baptistery. It's called Piazza del Duomo or Campo   dei Miracoli, the Field of Miracles. It has been  designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site   in which they say that, "this square is a cultural  heritage of exceptional, universal value...a  

magical quality pervades the site. This is one of  the most renowned urban landscapes of the world."    This beautiful Cathedral was built in the  Romanesque style that's earlier than the Gothic.   It dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. And  you really want to go inside the Duomo. Too many  

people come to Pisa and just take a snapshot of  the Leaning Tower, and then they depart without   going inside this magnificent church. Construction  began back in the year 1063, making it nearly   a thousand years old. Of course, many of the  features that we see today were added a little bit   later. Naturally the church grew over time, and it  took a couple of hundred years to build it all.    The Duomo is truly huge with a colossal  interior, 100 meters long, 50 meters wide   and 50 meters high. The nave is flanked by two  aisles on each side, with 68 monolithic columns,   each one a single huge piece of stone. This  interior design with a large nave and four aisles  

makes the building seem even larger than it is. It  heightens that feeling of vastness and infinity,   further enhanced by the majestic harmony of all  of its details. The ceiling of the nave is flat,   but coffered and made of gilded and sculpted  wood, with a heavenly fresco on the cupola.    The large golden mosaic of Christ, over the  apse is attributed to the great Byzantine artist   Cimabue, and later Renaissance artists painted  the scenes around the altar. In the middle of   the church hangs the beautiful bronze lamp called  Galileo's Lamp, because it suggested the movement   of the pendulum to Galileo, who was a native of  Pisa. One of the most important works of art here   is the pulpit designed by Giovanni Pisano, part  of an artistic family that was native to the area.  

He worked for 10 years on the masterpiece,  starting from 1302. Curiously, in later years it   fell out of favor and was removed from the church.  It wasn't until the 1920s that it was restored to   its proper place. It's a remarkable building,  considered the first modern Cathedral of Italy.   It became a pattern for many subsequent churches  built later. It was a massive expense to build   such a structure, and Pisa was able to pay for  it because they were a great military power,   and their Navy had just conquered the Muslims  in Sicily and brought home six ships loaded   with rich merchandise, which paid for the  construction. When you have finished your visit,   you might be feeling a little tired by now so you  could just take a taxi back to the train station,   or you could even ride on the city  bus to get back to the station,   just as you could have taken a taxi or  bus at the beginning to get to the tower,   but you'd miss all those city sites. On the  other hand, we're going to walk back and do  

a little more exploring. Leaving the piazza you'll  come across the Archbishop's Palace. Continue for   a couple more blocks along via Capponi, and you  will reach the Piazza of the Martyrs of Liberty,   one of the largest open space parks in the  city. It was created back in the 1830s by   the Grand Duke of Tuscany. A few blocks further  south you'll reach the Piazza San Francesco,   with its church and a street leading back  over to the Borgo. The evening has arrived,   and with it that beautiful atmosphere of twilight.  This could be the best part of your day, walking   back along the arcaded Street of Borgo Stretto.   Rather than taking a bus tour to get here,  

you can enjoy the freedom of independent  travel, browsing one of the old bookstores,   keep strolling along these beautifully lit arcades  in the evening. Perhaps stop and grab a snack,   or some roasted chestnuts from a sidewalk vendor.   Piazza Garibaldi also nicely lit at night,   and you get to the Arno and it's spectacular.  That alone makes an evening extension worthwhile.    Earlier, we saw a food market in the Logge  di Banchi. Well this evening there is some   kind of political rally going on, with some  enthusiastic speeches. (applause) Italians   tend to get quite activated about politics, as  they seem to be passionate about most things.   

Early evening is one of the most enjoyable times  to be out. The locals are here, they've got   their dogs out for a walk, there's families.  It's the real occasion of the passegiatta.   and then sit down at a café, relax, wind down  and end your trip with a nice glass of wine.    Or maybe you got back to the train  station while it's still daylight.   If you're traveling with your suitcase, they have  the baggage deposit room, which is very handy for   people who were passing through. Let's say you're  visiting from Florence on a daytrip, as we usually  

do. It's a one-hour train ride. And then you'll  need at least three hours, maybe four hours,   to experience what we've just shown you, and  then take a one-hour train back to Florence.   So you can do this as an easy half-day trip.  Then settle into a Florence restaurant for   a leisurely dinner – a perfect way to spend  your time. We frequently upload new movies, so  

please subscribe to our channel and click that  little alarm bell so you'll be notified, and if   you enjoyed the movie how about a thumbs up and  we always welcome comments down below, or if you   have questions about the destination, make note  and we will answer them. Thanks for watching.

2021-09-07 12:43

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