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  • It's one of the world's most famous towersPeople 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 picturesholding 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 simpleand your ticket comes right out at  

  • the bottommuch better than waiting online  at the ticket window. Find your platform,  

  • get on board, sit down anywhere in second-classno 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 availableBefore 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 yourselfand 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 walkIt'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 CorsoIt'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 CarmineWe 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 silkand 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 Riverwith 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 Longarnowe enter the lively square, Piazza Garibaldi,  

  • with several streets leading out from it, andstatue 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 creamor 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 sandwichessavory tarts and snacks to eat at the bar  

  • or takeout. They got started a long time ago asbakery, 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 snackYou 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. Wellwhen 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 outworth a quick lookthen 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 timeThey can't sit back at a café and enjoy a meal,  

  • have a glass of wine, take a leisurely stroll  while looking aroundand 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 activitiesAnd 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 lanesome 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 availablepeople 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 Miracolithe 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 sideYou want to be in front, so that it is leaning,  

  • and especially if you're alongside the Duomoalmost in front of the Duomo. You'll find  

  • that sweet spot for your great shot. Of courseeverybody's favorite game here is getting that  

  • perfect pose, where you're holding the tower upor 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 angelsthey'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 toweryou'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 coursenow 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 groundsand 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 topfor 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 buildingsthe 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 masterpiecestarting from 1302. Curiously, in later years it  

  • fell out of favor and was removed from the churchIt wasn't until the 1920s that it was restored to  

  • its proper place. It's a remarkable buildingconsidered 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 twilightThis 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,