THE MEDIEVAL QUARTERS : This itinerary starts from the Dominican
church of Santa Caterina, where Saint Tommaso d'Aquino preached during his visit
in Pisa (his personal Chair is here on exibition). This church also houses
several precious paintings and sculpures. Through Medieval narrow streets we get
to the Church of San Francesco, founded by the saint himself. Important artists
were asked to decorate this temple, such as Giotto, Tommaso Pisano, Niccolò di
Pietro Gerini. St. Francis’s habit is here kept and visible inside a reliquary.
In this church the Angelus was written and for the first time
said. Not far away from here we can find an interesting example of Pisan
baroque: the Church of San Matteo. The sumptuous baroque internal decorations
(frescoes, stuccoes and canvas) are no little surprise since the external
structure is a well preserved example of Pisan Romanesque. Crossing the river
Arno, we get to the quarter of San Martino, named after the Parish church. Once
again, this church is kind of a museum of paintings belonging to several
artistical periods and made by important artists. A rare example of XVIII c.
religious scenographic machinery is here kept. A few steps away, on the
riverside, stands the XII c. Church of Santo Sepolcro, originally it was also a
hospital and monastery. Pisan seat for the Knights Hospitaller (Order of St.
John, later Knights of Malta), its structure reminds indeed that of the Dome of
the Rock in Jerusalem, conquered by the crusaders in 1099.
In a five minutes walk, we get to one of the main shopping streets
of Pisa: Corso Italia. This quarter is dedicated to S. Antonio and was heavily
rebuilt after the Second World War bombing. On one side of the Parish church,
the american artist Keith Haring made in 1989 a huge mural representing “The
Global World” Back to the riverside, the itinerary ends with a visit to Santa
Maria della Spina. This tiny Medieval chapel was tranformed in the XIV c. into
one of the most outstanding Gothic edifices of Europe.
A shrine, a precious reliquary enriched with sculpure
masterpiecies (Andrea and Nino Pisano, Giovanni di Balduccio), whose name of
Spina ("thorn") derives from the presence of a thorn allegedly part of the crown
dressed by Christ on the Cross and brought here in 1333 (nowadays visible in the
church dedicated to S. Chiara).