On the occasion of the Pisa Book Festival, which takes place again this year at the Arsenali Repubblicani, the Municipality of Pisa has scheduled an extraordinary opening of the Torre Guelfa for Sunday, 1 October, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Historical background. The tall Guelph Tower stands in one of the most evocative areas of Pisa, the Cittadella Vecchia, and with its unmistakable profile has for centuries attracted the attention of those who have stayed in the city or simply strolled along the Lungarni.
Here, in fact, in the early 1200s, following the numerous and important victories won by its fleet throughout the Mediterranean basin, the Pisan Republic brought together its intense shipbuilding activities in one large space. The choice fell on the area furthest to the west of the city, near the monastery of San Vito (an important religious institution now destroyed and witnessed only by the church of the same name, which has been transformed several times over the centuries), where port facilities had already existed since the previous century.
The area, known as Tersana or Tersanaia from terzarolo, the smallest of the three Latin sails of the galleys, was affected by imposing works that proceeded rather slowly; however, in 1264 the new republican arsenal, in addition to the garages and slipways, also included a small church, dedicated to Saints Barbara and Reparata, which was solemnly blessed by Archbishop Federico Visconti.
All that remains today of the 13th-century structures are the brick arches inserted in the defence wall along the Arno, as well as the 14th-century walled arches of the warehouses; the latter were arranged in a lozenge shape to take advantage of the presence of the disappeared Auser river, which, before flowing into the Arno, crossed the area, serving as a launching canal and mooring for boats.
At the time of the first Florentine domination (1406), the new lords of Pisa definitively transformed the structures of the republican arsenal and built what would later be called the Cittadella Vecchia, to distinguish it from the Cittadella Nuova, today's Giardino Scotto, built from 1440 onwards in the opposite corner of the city.
The construction of the tall Guelph Tower, so-called in opposition to the pre-existing Ghibelline Tower, completed in 1290 in the south-west corner of the Tersana, which has now disappeared, also dates back to the early 15th century.