Pisa, Tuscany | A Quick View of Piazza dei Miracoli & the Leaning Tower


For those that have subscribed or have been following the blog for some time now, you will know that I was born in Pisa, Italy!

Now Pisa is not exactly a big town, in fact I’d say it is pretty small, yet charming.

A popular University city, Pisa has one main feature that has made put it on the proverbial map – the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Porta Santa Maria – Piazza dei Miracoli Entrance

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Many people may not know this, however, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was not simply the bell tower for the cathedral, or at least it was not built just for that reason, it was a statement.

Pisa was a military power, with one of the strongest fleets in the Mediterranean! However, in those days, a strong army meant one thing – you were always at war.

Pisa was no different.

You could say the Leaning Tower was a statement: 

‘We are here! We are strong! And we are rich! – just look at our amazing bell tower’. 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa took 300 years to complete!  The city being constantly at war, led to some ‘budget cuts’ which affected also the completion of this Italian icon.  

Let’s not forget the other reason why they had to halt the construction, the reason the Tower is so popular today. Engineers discovered that the land was not stable and making one side of the tower lean.


Construction on the site started in 1173 and finished in 1372.

The architectural style is Romanesque and the architect was Bonnano Pisano.

Piazza dei Miracoli

While the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the main attraction, Piazza dei Miracoli or Square of Miracles, is simply one of the most beautiful Piazza’s in Italy – and I am not saying that just because I am a Pisano. 

I mean just look at this…

Lined with (expensive) bars and restaurants there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy a meal while admiring one of the most amazing pieces of architectural art.

For those not looking for a bite to eat, sit on the grass, take in some sun and soak it all in. 

If you are desperate for some last minute souvenirs, the piazza is full of t-shirt stalls and souvenir stands.

Piazza dei Miracoli was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO 25 years ago.

Pisa is located north-west of the city walls and not in the center of Pisa as many people may think (the Vatican is the same in Rome!).

Construction of the square started in 1064, with the Cathedral set to be the centrepiece of the entire Piazza.

Piazza dei Miracoli is a perfect example of Pisa Romanesque expression. 

Being a Maritime Republic, with many trips to the Arab world, it is interesting to look at the details to understand just how powerful Pisa was.

The three structures found in Piazza dei Miracoli – since the Etruscans – are meant to symbolize the main stages of a human’s life:

Birth (the Baptistry), Life (the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta), and Death (the graveyard – Camposanto Monumentale).

Cool Fact:

As you head past the Leaning Tower towards the ticket office, you will notice the She-Wolf of Rome monument.

What has Rome got to do with Pisa? Well nothing, except during the Facist Era, this monument was added here as to say ‘property of Rome’. 

Local Tip:

Unghiate del diavolo Cathedral side

L’Unghiate del Diavolo or Devil’s Claws/Claws of the Devil, on the Cathedral of Pisa (ironic!) is a piace of marble, with a large number of small holes on a piece of marble.  

The Unghiate del Diavolo are located on the north side of the Cathedral of Pisa (if you are looking straight at the front entrance, it will be on the right).

Legend has it that they are called the Devils Claws because the Devil climb to the top of the Cathedral to stop it from being built – it clearly did not work. A cool thing to try out is – count the number of ‘claws’ and then let a friend do it after you – you will both come up with a different number!

I got 94 and my friend Noemi got 86…weird? There has to be a logical explanation but cool little trick to know when visiting the Piazza!

Have you ever tried your hand at the count of the ‘claws’?

Where to Have a Drink?

Need a place to drink after your long day or travel or sightseeing? 

Check out, Orzo Bruno (link to site) a great little brewery with a young/university crowd but the beers are good!

I struggle to provide any good restaurants because any time I head back, I am visiting family and we always eat at home. However, I will be sure to add any when I get a chance to try some places out.

How do I get to Piazza dei Miracoli?

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