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 Italy Pisa Not Just a Leaning Tower Podtours

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A medieval city with a touch of the East

Pisa was one of the great maritime republics of medieval Italy - an immensely wealthy city trading with the Orient.

Of course our sightseeing trip has to start with the leaning tower. But over nearly two hundred years, Pisa's wealth funded not just the tower, but a fine cathedral, a beautiful circular baptistery, and an elegant cloistered cemetery. It's one of the most stunning pieces of townscape to have come down to us from the early Middle Ages - and it's almost unchanged since then.

We'll also visit a magnificently austere octagonal church by the same architect who built the baptistery, a delightful Renaissance square with painted palaces, peaceful back streets and gardens on the other side of the river from the cathedral, and a spiky Gothic chapel. We see the ruins of the Arsenal where the Republic's great ships were built - and visit a bustling vegetable market.

From the 'Field of Miracles' we take the back streets to visit the Piazza degli Cavalieri, with its Renaissance painted palaces and ornate architecture. Then we visit the medieval centre of the city with narrow streets, tower houses, and more fine Romanesque churches playing variations on the design of the cathedral. Finally we make our way over the Arno to the delightful octagonal church of Santo Sepolcro - by Diotisalvi, the architect of the cathedral baptistery - and the lonely huge church of San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno.

For lunch, we recommend one of the restaurants in Piazza delle Vettovaglie, the market square. They're good, and inexpensive. So if you're following the entire tour, looking at the cathedral in the morning and following the rest of the tour after lunch would work quite nicely. But if you want to do it the other way around, remember that flexibility is the essence of a Podtour™ - just select the track you want, when you want it.

By the way, buy your tickets for the cathedral, baptistery and Camposanto from the cathedral ticket office before you start the tour. It's cheaper than buying them separately - as well as more convenient.

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