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Pisa, Livorno & the Etruscan Riviera

Pisa, Livorno & the Etruscan Riviera Description A fascinating city of art and culture, Pisa isn't just about its leaning campanile. It is the city of the lungarni (the "sides of the River Arno"), and it was this winding river path that dictated the city's development and fortunes. Both peaked under the grand rule of the Pisan Maritime Republic during the 10th to 13th centuries, when the historical center, with its unbeatable heritage of medieval monuments and artwork, was formed. Midway along the Arno River, the Ponte di Mezzo marks the southern boundary of Pisa's main historical district. The arcaded Borgo Stretto stretches in front of you, its range of increasingly classy shops representing the city's commercial heart. As you head up it, look on your right for the 14th-century façade of the Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo, right. Built in 990 and successively amplified, it documents magnificently the passage from the Romanesque to Gothic styles. Inside, you'll find a 13th-century marble crucifix, sculpted for the portal of the Camposanto by Nino Pisano and moved here in the 18th century. From the political heart to the religious heart: a short walk along Via Santa Maria takes you to the Piazza del Duomo, better known as the Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles). It is the well known and impressively spacious home of the city cathedral, campanile (better known as the Leaning Tower), baptistery and monumental cemetery. It's a remarkable collection, not just in terms of craftsmanship – the buildings are considered the best representations of the architectural style known as Pisan-Romanesque – but also in the uniformity of their style. They were built during the 11th to 13th centuries, the grandest years of the Marine Republic, which saw the city blossom in art and architecture. Considered the epitome of Pisan-Romanesque craftsmanship and imitated in various forms all over Tuscany, the Duomo, at left, occupies the heart of the square. Buscheto laid the first brick in 1064 after the victorious crusade of Palermo in the previous year, and it was completed and consecrated relatively quickly in 1118. The Camposanto Monumentale is the last and by far the largest monument in the quadrille. It was built from 1278 to a design by Giovanni di Simone, and was finished in the second half of the 15th century. Its walls house the best existing complex of medieval frescoes in the world with works by Francesco Traini and Buonamico Buffalmacco (The Triumph of Death cycle that so inspired Franz Liszt), Taddeo Gaddi, Spinello Aretino, Andrea di Bonaiuto, Antonio Veneziano and 15th-century additions by Benozzo Gozzoli making up 26 large squares. Across the Monte Pisano from Pisa, the small town of Castelfranco di Sotto is the first major stop on the south bank of the Arno River. The historic center is built to a typical medieval street plan, with a rectangular shape intersected at right angles by nine roads, and surrounded by fortress-style walls still in possession of four well-preserved tower gates. There is much, much more in this guide. It goes on to cover Livorno, the Etruscan Riviera, and the Tuscan Archipelago, which is made up of seven islands. Five of those (Capraia, Elba, Gorgona, Pianosa and Montecristo) lie along the Livorno Coast; the other two (Giglio and Giannutri) are lower down beside the province of Grosseto. Immersed in a cobalt blue sea with white-sand beaches and coves perfect for diving, the "seven sisters" are looked after by the Parco Nazionale dell'Archipelago Toscano. Where to stay, where to eat, what to see, what to do, the history, the culture - it's all here in detail!

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