Arsenals and Cittadella

Una delle navi restaurate (Museo Navi Romane)
Una delle navi restaurate (Museo Navi Romane)
Republican Arsenal and Citadella: a great water basin within the walls, dated 1160. The structure was impressive, so much so that King Alfonso IV of Aragon, when he commissioned the construction of an arsenal in Porto Torres, specifically requested that it be made like that of the Pisans. In 1290, the Ghibelline tower was built in the southwest corner, now disappeared, later the San'Agnese tower to the north, the only one still intact near the old slaughterhouses, then the tower of San Giorgio, on Via Bonanno, partially visible. The large arcaded sheds, about eighty, were used to build the Pisan galleys, long and mighty warships. The palazzotto, or castellaccio, today home to temporary exhibitions, was modified by the Florentines after the conquest of 1406 and a new tower was erected nearby, called Guelfa, rebuilt after the war events of '44. After 1543 the shipbuilding functions were moved to the new Medicean Arsenal. With the unification of Italy, the Cittadella was used as artillery barracks and a large door was opened in the medieval walls. Unfortunately, the whole area was severely damaged during the Second World War.


Porta Degazia: from which Corradino di Svevia entered on 7 April 1268 transported by Pisan galleys. The sovereign stopped in the Ghibelline city and then continued towards Naples in an attempt to annihilate the Angevin troops. Unfortunately he was wounded and fell in battle. This event definitely marked the end of the empire in Italy and in a sense the beginning of the decline of the Republic of Pisa. The door is still visible on the back of the castellaccio.
Medicean arsenals: they were built between 1548 and 1588 at the behest of Cosimo I and Ferdinando I de’ Medici, based on a project by Bernardo Buontalenti, on the area that temporarily housed the city's first botanical garden (1543). This was the building place of galleys, long war boats 40 to 50 meters long, with sails or oars. The large arcaded sheds were used progressively, starting with the assembly of the materials on the bottom, up to the launch of the ship in the Arno river. With the opening of the Livorno and Portoferraio shipyards, the activities ceased and in the Lorraine period the Medicean Arsenals were converted into stables for the Dragon knights, soldiers on horseback equipped with arquebus. Inside, the best horses were selected and the business continued with the kingdom of Italy. From here came the Adamello mules, made famous during the battle of 1918 between the Italian and Austrian forces in Lombardy, on the summit of the Adamello. Today the facility houses the Museum of Ancient Ships of Pisa.
Museum of Ancient Ships of Pisa: defined the largest archaeological find in Italy of the last 20 years, the exceptional treasure unearthed during the excavations for the construction of a exchange building near the railway station of Pisa San Rossore in 1998, it is today exhibited inside the Medicean Arsenal. The ancient ships of Pisa, just over thirty, can be dated between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD and tell the story of river and maritime navigation in a period between the Etruscans and the collapse of the Roman Empire. Thousands of finds testify to the presence of rich commercial exchanges, customs, foods and curiosities that have allowed us to reconstruct the four-thousand-year history of the city. The museum also preserves the ship Alkedo from the 1st century AD, the oldest baptised ship ever found in Italy.


The first section of the museum of Ships is dedicated to the origins of the city, starting from the Etruscans, passing through the Romans, up to the Lombard period. Here history joins legend. There are those who hypothesise that the origins of Pisa may be Greek, Ligurian or even Celtic. The archaeological finds, however, tell us an Etruscan story that began from the ninth century BC, while the Etruscan writing practice started from 680 BC Even the toponym “Pisa” confuses us and does not provide any certainty about its origins: it is attested in ancient times both in Greek and in Latin, however it remains an unsolved mystery, given the variety of peoples, with as many linguistic varieties, who inhabited the Pisan territory. In Etruscan, Pīsae means estuary, in ancient Greek πσος, pisos, heavily irrigated place, prairie. In Sanskrit it can be translated with mouth, (perhaps river), SA, Infinity, while for the ancient Ligurian peoples Pise meant sun among the waters. Each version is linked to water as the city was built around the two main rivers Arno and Auser and a network of canals in an alluvial terrain, very close to the sea. Should the origins be Etruscan, it would be the only Etrurian city built at the mouth of a river. The Etruria region, between the upper Lazio and Emilia Romagna, was at the centre of the trade traffic in the Mediterranean since 640-620 BC, with the export of local products, such as Etruscan wine, and exchanges with Greek artists and artisans who contributed to the cultural evolution of Etruria with an oriental flair. The main products imported to and exported from Pisa were the following. Goods arriving in the ports of Pisa:
  • Between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC: wine, oil, preserved fish, fish sauce, fruit, honey, shellfish, resin, fish, ceramic pottery.
  • Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD: wine, oil, preserved fish, fish sauces, ceramic tableware, glassware, oil lamps.
  • The goods leaving Pisa from its ports, from the third century BC to the fifth century AD, were: wine, black glazed pottery, common pottery, sealed pottery, bricks, wood.
The deeds of one of the characters who certainly frequented the Pisan Arsenals, the pirate Trapelicino. Perhaps of Trapani origin, his education was completed in a Pisan environment. For his nefarious work he was defined peiran, pirate. The first certain news is from 1162-1164, when he was in service for the Republic in the sea of Alexandria in Egypt to control the rich merchant traffic: perhaps by mistake, or by piracy instinct, he attacked a friendly Egyptian ship and for this reason he was banished from Pisa, together with his crew - qui fuerunt in navi Trapilicini - by Consul Guido di Bella. He took refuge in Portovenere where he made an alliance with the Genoese against the Pisans, which led to a war between the two Republics. We know that he became a privateer and later a mercenary in the service of the king of Aragon, but further news was lost over the centuries.
The statue of Galileo: for many years the city of Pisa has been looking for a suitable location for a new statue dedicated to the Pisan genius. The opportunity arose in 1994, when the entrepreneur Flaminio Farnesi commissioned to Stefania Guidi a modern bronze sculpture, about two meters high and set on a 140 cm high marble block. The statue is oriented towards Piazza dei Miracoli, as Galileo's finger seems to indicate (but also towards the sky), in memory of the first experiments he performed.


Last update: 24/11/2020
A DUE PASSI DALLA TORRE
310m
Bonanno Pisano, 21
Recapito 339 2098540
VILLA MARTINA
320m
Bonanno Pisano, 23
Recapito 338 1361746
CAPITOL
350m
Via Enrico Fermi, 13
Recapito 050 49597
NOVANTANOVE B&B
460m
Via Cesare Battisti, 99
Recapito 340 5468497
RISTORANTE VOLTURNO
290m
Via Volturno, 23
Recapito 050 2200293
AL PONTE DELLA CITTADELLA
320m
Via Di P.Ta Mare, 7
Recapito 050 525396