Those who come to Pisa with a traveller’s curiosity will realize that the city is not just the fascinating Leaning Tower but is also rich in equally important historical, artistic and architectural testimonies, not only within the city walls but also in the neighbouring areas.
Divided in two by the Arno River – which flows between the picturesque embankments to offer an ever–changing play of light that Elisa Baciocchi must have also admired when she resided in her beautiful Palazzo Reale – the city reveals its past through the buildings that still today make up its urban fabric. The tall, narrow tower houses stand alongside the ordered buildings symbolic of Medici power, in an ordered disorder of narrow roads and large piazzas. After the Piazza del Duomo, which is the religious centre of the city, also picturesque are the buildings of the Piazza dei Cavalieri, first and foremost the Palazzo dei Cavalieri, today the seat of the prestigious Scuola Normale Superiore. And there are many other Pisan buildings that house university facilities, contributing to the images of a city of knowledge that Napoleon himself contributed to creating, instituting the Scuola Normale and radically modernizing the University.
In area surrounding Pisa one finds the enchanting medieval village of San Miniato, where a branch of the Buonaparte family resided and where the young Napoleon visited the canon Filippo Buonaparte on at least two occasions.