"Historical walk around the old town" Walking Tip by xiquinho
Walking, Pisa: 4 reviews and 3 photos
The Piazza dei Miracoli indisputably has the highest concentration of attractions in the city, but the rest of Pisa has a number of hidden gems. Venture five minutes away from the main sights and you're rewarded with a totally untouristy town, full of winding medieval streets, attractive squares and not a plastic leaning tower in sight. Just a few minutes' walk from the cathedral is the elegant Piazza dei Cavalieri, its north side flanked by the grey and white graffito façade of a 16th-century palazzo, now part of the university. On its left is the clocktower where Count Ugolino della Gherardesca was left to die with his children and nephews, as recounted in Dante's Divine Comedy. The church on the other side is the Church of the Knights of St Stephen (admission: EUR1.50), an order founded to defend Christianity against attacks by the Turks.
On the south side of the Arno next to Ponte Solferino is the Church of St Mary of the Thorn (admission: EUR1.10), perched precariously right at the edge of the river. The name originates from the merchant who rebuilt the church in the 14th century who claimed to have obtained a thorn from the crown of thorns that Christ wore on the cross. The spiked turrets on the church roof commemorate the relic. Just upriver, the Ponte di Mezzo, Pisa's oldest bridge, is at the centre of festivities in June when the whole city turns out for the Gioco del Ponte, a traditional fight between the northern and southern districts of the town in which locals in Renaissance costume re-enact a battle for possession of the bridge.
Fans of Modern Art might like to wander down towards the railway station, where Keith Haring's last mural can be found just off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (by the bus station). Painted in 1989 just a few months before the American artist's death, the work, entitled "Tuttomondo", is a colourful depiction of giant human figures, brightening up an otherwise rather desolate corner of the town.
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