Pisa: from marshland to a Seafaring Republic

Pisa lungarni 1

One of the most popular destinations in Tuscany is the city of Pisa which can be reached from the Agriturismo I Pitti by car in about 50 minutes.
Instead, from the Casa Rowe Bed & Breakfast and the Cosy Apartment in Florence, I highly recommend the train.

Nobody knows exactly when Pisa was founded. Dionysius of Alicarnasso described the arrival of Deucalione Greco and his Pelagi Peloponnesians in Italy, he mentions Pisa four centuries before the War of Troy.
Pliny, instead, tells us that Pisa was founded by Pelope, King of the Piseans, a good thirteen centuries before Christ; Stradone assures us that Nestor, king of Pilus, founded Pisa after the fall of Troy thirty-two centuries ago.

Whether or not these are legends, the courageous Pisans were able to create a legend themselves by becoming one of the four glorious seafaring republics, along with Amalfi, Venice and Genoa, the latter being its bitter enemy. Following the fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent conquests by the Barbarian armies, at the beginning of the eleventh century, Pisa started sculpting its name on every single drop of water in the Mediterranean Sea: it conquered Reggio Calabria in 1005 and Sardinia in 1017, defeating the Saracen king Mugahid and also limiting the trade expansion of Genoa.

Between 1030 and 1035, the glorious Carthage, Bona and Lipari were conquered. An episode in the history of Pisa is depicted in one of the boxes in the spending ceiling of the Cavalieri church: the capture of four Turkish ships by six Pisan triremes in 1002 in the Aegean Sea. The work was by Iacopo Chimenti da Empoli. Between 1051 and 1052, the great admiral Iacopo Ciurini occupied Corsica causing the Genoese to become even more resentful. A few years later, in 1063, another Pisan admiral, Giovanni Orlando, conquered Palermo and finally expelled the Saracen pirates who had made it their hideout.
It is from the loot conquered in this city that the financial bases were laid for the construction of the splendid Piazza del Duomo, rightly also Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracles Square), a must for those arriving in the city.

These finds have been restored and are exhibited at the Museo delle Navi Antiche di Pisa (Museum of Ancient Ships of Pisa), at the Medici Arsenals on the Pisan Lungarno, in a fascinating tale that reveals their loads of commercial products and the testimonies of life on board.

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