The zenith of Pisa’s power was the 11th – 12 centuries, when, as an independent major maritime and commercial player, it controlled much of the Tyrrhenian Sea and Sardinia. The money poured in, funding the construction of its greatest architectural sight, the complex known as the Campo dei Miracoli, the Field of Miracles. Here stands the Campanile, the real name of the iconic Leaning Tower (1173 - 1350), the Duomo 1064 – c1180) and the Battistero (1152 - 1350), one of the finest and most remarkable trio of buildings in the world. It’s flanked by the beautifully restored Campo Santo, built for burials and bombed in 1944. The famous Tower, constructed on soft, sandy soil, started leaning early in its construction, reaching 4.5 metres from the vertical in 1990, when it was in imminent danger of collapse. Engineers attached tons of lead to the north, held in place by steel cables, and a wedge of earth was removed, allowing the Tower to settle into a better position; it is now stable.
This university city has lovely piazzas, a great daily food market and other fine buildings in the shape of churches and palazzi, particularly the string of 16th-century mansions along the River Arno.