Pisa, located in western Tuscany, is known throughout the world for its famous Leaning Tower, but there is so much more to Pisa than just this striking landmark. This ecclesiastical city began its life as a seaside settlement around 3,000 years ago and was first laid out in the mid-eleventh century.
Today, Pisa is crammed full of wonderful, historical monuments and buildings dating back many hundreds of years, and much of the city has managed to retain its medieval appearance. Pisa is also known for its excellent university, which was established in 1343 and has become one of Italy's top schools. The historic city center of Pisa is concentrated on the north bank of the River Arno and is still surrounded by 12th-century walls. The main thoroughfare is the long and curving Via Santa Maria, which connects the Campo Dei Miracoli with the Lungarno (Embankment).
Palaces and mansions still line this street and retain their splendid facades, which date back to the 16th century. The social center of Pisa is the Piazza Garibaldi, which is located on the north side of the Ponte di Mezzo (Middle Bridge). Also of note is the elegant Borgo Stretto, which is filled with interesting shops and cafés. If you have time for excursions outside of Pisa, then consider trips to the neighboring Tuscan cities of Florence and Lucca.