Normally I write about Pisa when I am in Pisa, and about southern Tuscany when I am in Civitella, my home village. Tonight I will make an exception because I have spent three days away from my computer and I haven’t had the time to write about how much I love Pisa at this time of the year.
June is definitely the best month to be in town. Pisa celebrates its “Giugno Pisano” with a number of events, including the major ones: La Luminara on June 16th, Palio di San Ranieri on June 17th and Gioco del Ponte on the last weekend of the month. All around these three major dates, the city organizes a number of minor events which are just as interesting.
The official program is only available in Italian, and it can be downloaded in pdf format here. Of all the things organized, I recommend you…
- …go for an aperitivo to the two little bars opened for the occasion right on the riverbanks along the Arno: Argini and Margini and Arno Vivo. The former organizes live jazz concerts every Friday and Saturday night. Last year they served fish and chips too! The latter is more “disco-oriented”!
- …take advantage of “Degustando Pisa” (literally, tasting Pisa) and try local products in the restaurants which participate in the event.
- …visit the churches of Pisa at night. Every Thursday in June (3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th) some churches are open to the public at night. We stumbled upon the Church of San Pietro in Vinculis the other night and it took my breath away! I had never visited the church of “San Pierino” as it’s called by the locals, because it was closed for a long time. It is incredible. And at night, lit for the occasion, it was really, really beautiful. I had no idea. Next Thursday I want to go to the other churches opened at night: the Church of San Martino, the Church of Santa Cristina (where St. Catherine of Siena received the stigmata), and the Church of San Sepolcro (a church built by the Templars in a very unusual and mysterious hexagonal shape).
- …visit the gardens of Pisa on Saturday 5th or 12th with the Associazione Arcadia. The meeting point is Piazzetta del Rosso at 5 p.m. The tour lasts 3 hours.
- …go on a free tour of the churches of the city organized by the tourist guide association of Pisa on Thursday June 10th and 24th. Starting at 9 pm.
- …knit under the Leaning Tower! Celebrate World Knitting Day with the local association! Knitting meeting on Saturday June 13th, from 5:30pm to 8:30 pm in Piazza dei Miracoli!
- …vote for the most beautifully decorated building on the Lungarno on the day of the Luminara and of course, enjoy the fire-works! On June 16th, from 9pm.
- …see the parade and the regatta of the Palio di San Ranieri on June 17th at 7 pm.
- …take a boat tour of the city on the river Arno and see the exhibition dedicated to the expedition to Egypt of the local archaeologist Rosellini. Meeting point: Piazza San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno at 10 a.m. on June 19th, boat tour and visit of the exhibition at Palazzo Blu.
- …travel back in time participating at the “Gran Ballo Risorgimentale” at Giardino Scotto on June 19th at 6:30 pm. You could meet your prince charming!!!
- …enjoy the concert of the University Choir at the Church of Santo Stefano on June 19th at 9:15 pm.
- …enjoy the “operetta” in the medieval heart of the city: Follie di Operette in Piazza S. Omobono, at 10 pm. on Sunday June 20th.
- …wait for the Gioco del Ponte with the locals on Friday 25th at Argini and Margini, from 6 pm to midnight. The dinner will be made with local organic products.
- …see the parade in historical costumes and the Gioco del Ponte on Ponte di Mezzo, Saturday 26th from 5 pm.
- …see a concert at the beautiful Basilica di San Piero a Grado or in the courtyard of the Church of San Francesco at 9pm on June 26th.
- …see a cross-bow competition in Piazza dei Cavalieri, on Sunday 27th at 6pm.
- …take advantage of the inauguration of the recently renovated Logge dei Banchi to actually enter them (they are part of city hall and it is generally not possible to visit the rooms above the Logge). Palazzo Gambacorti at 6pm, on June 30th. And then participate in the party organized under the Logge!
And don’t forget to walk around the center after dark: Pisa is really, really pretty at night!