09 November 2014

The Camposanto Monumentale in Pisa

I went to Italy two times this year: one was in March, when I went to Tuscany with my partner; and the second one was in June, when I had a conference in Pisa. So it turns out that I have been to Pisa within the span of three months. I should say that Pisa is one of those cities that have a better impression the second time; I thought that it was overrated during my first visit, but for the second time, I actually loved it. It might be small, but there are plenty of interesting things to discover, if one would just search for it, and forget the Leaning Tower for just a moment. Anyway, I digress, because the point of this entry is one such discovery, the Camposanto in Pisa, located at the Piazza dei Miracoli, right next to the Leaning Tower, and yet not a lot of people visit this place.

See, this is a cemetery. The cathedral is literally right next to it, and the leaning tower is one minute away. And yet most of the people are just interested in the tower, as well as making photos of them supporting the tower, or trying to topple it with their hands. So when I visited, even though it was June and summer was in session, the place was relatively quiet, and I loved it.

The camposanto is a rectangular area with a central courtyard. What you see here is the central grassy area, while all the tombstones and statues are in the covered area surrounding it. I loved this place, bringing peace and quiet which is very different from the chaotic plaza outside, due to the surge of tourists.

Here you can see the tombstones that I have found in the area. They are of varying quality: some are buried in the ground, while others are in a raised marble platform. Legend has it that this cemetery was built using sacred soil, collected from the Holy Land, and brought back to Pisa during the Crusades. People back then thought that bodies buried here will rot within 24 hours. I am not sure about that, however.

Finally, something that is less about death and more about art: statues. These statues can be found all over the place, sometimes above the tombstones, sometimes just beside them. Nowadays, this place is less of a cemetery, and instead more of an art gallery. I am not sure whether there are still people being buried here; my guess is that there isn't any more.

There, while I was in the conference, I snatched a quick moment and explored this area. After all, I had an extra day there, and so I opted to check out other places while I was in town. Wait for my next travelogue, when I would blog about something outside Tuscany, and yet it is still very beautiful.


  1. Good eye for seeing something most tourists miss!

    1. Zhu,

      Oh yes! The contrast between the inside and outside was quite drastic: people were swarming outside trying to get to the Leaning Tower, while it was virtually empty inside!