Pisa and Lucca
ying a few kilometres from the sea, at the end of a long fertile plain, that of the river Arno, Pisa is in the centre of an area characterised by an incomparable natural environment, composed of great woods along the shores dominated by the scent of pine and brackish air, now enclosed in a Nature Park that protects them.
Coltano, Tombolo, Migliarino, San Rossore, also Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia area the capitals of this environment which makes Pisa unique, not only on the Tuscan scene.
Pisa, an ancient Roman port and great maritime republic, is no longer on the sea but its splendid past lives within its abundant historic and artistic monuments: narrow streets that open into picturesque little squares with multicoloured markets; the noble “Lungarni” with its splendid and majestic palaces; the charming Piazza dei Cavalieri and Piazza dei Miracoli, one of the most famous monumental complexes in the world with its Cathedral, Baptistery, Camposanto and famous Leaning Tower, symbol of the city.
A town of bell towers and churches, unique and unmistikable with their pure Romanesque style, Pisa also offers visitors a series of folk events.
These include the Musical Season, the great Historical Boat Race, the famous Game of the Bridge and the “Luminara”, a fantastic candle-light illumination of the Lungarni held every year on 16th June, on the eve of the feast of the town’s patron saint Ranieri.
Home to Etruscans and Romans, Pisa was once a lagoon urbe because the Arno delta, the river and the coast were located further inland.
The city enjoyed naval and military authority and was also a thriving trading port.
Italy became too small to contain the fine Maritime Republic of Pisa as its prestige and power increased. Yet the end of the 13th c. marked the beginning of its decline.
Beaten by Genoa and beleaguered by the silting up of its famous harbour, Pisa became weakened.
Misfortunes followed and began to affect political affairs.
Independence gave way to subjugation and the city changed from a free city state to a dominion.
Overcome by Florence in 1406, the city spent hundreds of years under the yoke of domination, its former glories a distant memory.
But the city underwent a miraculous reawakening in the 19th century.
The Lorrainese were important in its recovery because they drained the lagoon area and the banks of the Arno river.
They began to build squares and palaces and also restored the Tenuta di San Rossore, nowadays a verdant natural park of great beauty. Pisa is not only a city with an enormous quantity of art treasures, but also a city of very old cultural traditions. It is the homeland of Galileo; possessor of a flourishing University, among the oldest and most famous in the world.
Lucca is a city quite particular, and in a way, magical. Since early Roman times the historical eras of Lucca are manifested in the various and abundant architectural splendours, invention and modification superimposed on its precedent page in history.
Lucca is adorned from the severe romanic to the most sumptious of the renaissance resulting in a splendour of unsurpassed harmony.
The superb churches of San Michele and San Martino integrate splendidly with the noble palaces built four or five hundred years later.
The Roman amphitheatre, superimposed with the ancient market place, blends with the rest of the city as if it were an architect before its time projecting to the citizens the style in which the city was built.
The pleasure that Lucca concedes is not only artistic, the old grocery and pastry shops situated in the via Fillungo offering the most exquisite local specialities, the wine taverns, the characteristic trattorias and the restaurants testify to the long tradition that the Lucchese have for the pleasures of the table.
This is also a form of culture that has been handed down for centuries and hopefully will never cease, as never passes by fashion for the art treasures that Lucca offers and permits to be lived daily had few equals among the European cities.