The History of Pisa

Pisa Chronology - A Timeline of Events

Field of Miracles - Campo dei Miracoli

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

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of the History of Pisa 


The history of Pisa began 180 years before Christ on the banks of the Arno River, approximately ten miles inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Known as Pisae, a Roman colony, the settlement displayed some Ligurian and Etruscan influence. This timeline shows some of the major events that shaped the Pisa that we see today.  For a more complete chronology read further in Tilt by Nicholas Shrady.


Pisa Timeline - Chronology of Events

Date Event

700 -180 B.C.

The region is dominated by the Ligurians and later the Etruscans.

180 B.C.  Pisae becomes a Roman Colony
300 - 500 A.D. Barbarian Invasions of Italy
878 Saracens conquer Byzantium to occupy Sicily.  Impacts Pisan trade
1003 Pisa goes to war against Lucca
1004 Saracens raid Pisa
1011 Pisa takes the offensive and enjoys victories over the Muslim invaders.
1063 Pisa raids Saracen held Palermo
1075 Pisa develops Consuetudini di mare to govern and protect trade
1096 Pisa joins Pope Urban II in the first Crusades
1111 Pisa enters into treaty with Byzantium gaining access to trade freely in the Holy Land.
1118 The cathedral of Pisa is consecrated by Pope Gelasius II
1136 Pisa raids Amalfi.
1153 Work is started on the Baptistery building at the Campo dei Miracoli
1173 Construction of the Tower of Pisa begins.
1178 Work on the tower stops with only three tiers completed
1228 Pisa defeats the combined forces of Florence and Lucca
1272 Work resumes on the Tower
1276 Pisa defeated by Florence
1278 Construction of the Tower comes to a halt after reaching the 7th tier
1284 Genoa defeats Pisa at the Battle of Meloria.
1298 The Tilt of the tower is first observed and a commission is formed to investigate the cause and effect a remedy.
1301 Andrea Orcagna paints the Camposanto's noteworthy frescos
1316 They tyrant ruler of the city-state, Ugukccione della Faggiola, is driven from Pisa by the people
1338 The University of Pisa is established
1370 The tower of Pisa is officially completed
1509 Niccolo Machiavelli supports Florence in raids and attacks on Pisa. Pisa falls and rule passes over to Florence
1589 Galileo Galilei teaches mathematics at the University of Pisa.  Famous gravity experiments, involving the leaning tower of Pisa, are conducted
1633 Galileo is convicted of heresy during the inquisitions
1787  Alessandro Da Morrona measures the tilt of the tower approximately 3.8 meters
1818 The Pisa Circle begins as English expatriates such as Percy B. Shelly and Lord Byron arrive in Italy to escape the social constraints of the times back home in England.
1838 Alessandro della Gherardesca, an architect commissioned to create a walkway around the base of the tower, makes a disastrous miscalculation and designs and performs work that allows water to flood the base of the tower setting it in motion after years of stability.
1902 The bell tower in Venice's Piazza S. Marco (St. Mark's Square) collapses generating fresh concern over the notable instability of the (now famously) leaning tower of Pisa
1907 - 1922 A string of commissions are formed to evaluate the state of the tower's tilt. No actions that improve the situation come forth.
1934 A plan, approved by none other than the infamous Benito Mussolini, is carried out that nearly destroys the tower.
1943 - 1945 WWII. Though Pisa is ravened by the war, the Campo dei Miracoli is, mostly, spared. Only one grenade is detonated in the Camposanto - some frescos and a few other treasures were lost
1964 - 1988 More commissions to assess the state of the tower are formed, but still, no solutions are forthcoming
1990 The Italian government closes the Tower of Pisa due to concerns for public safety.
1999 Soil extraction is performed. This proves to be the definitive solution to the Tower of Pisa's stability
2001 Pisa celebrates the restoration of the tower.

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Credit for information on this tour:

Shrady, N. (2003) Tilt. Simon & Shuster. NY, NY, USA.

Machiavelli, F., Martin, S., Townsend, H., Tyrrell, N (1996). Eyewitness Travel Guides: Italy. DK Publishing. NY, NY, USA.

Sarti, R. (2004). Italy - A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Facts on File Inc.. NY, NY, USA. Home | Italy MAPS | Academic Content | Links | About Us | Italy News | Italian Phrasebook | Italy Weather | Site Map

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