Every year, Pisa revives the ancient tradition of celebrating the New Year on March 25. You can read about the Pisan New Year’s celebrations here. Over the past few years, the city has put a lot of energy into promoting this interesting event and into making it a perfect excuse to visit Pisa.
When I wrote my first post, the whole event didn’t last more than a couple of hours: the parade, the light hitting the marble egg, the mass, the flag wavers. This year, the celebrations will last for five full days, with some really interesting initiatives.
The actual “New Year’s Day” is March 25, but the celebrations started today with the inauguration of the exhibit “Santi, Cavalieri e Pellegrini – Pisa e i percorsi medievali del pellegrinaggio” dedicated to the pilgrims passing through Pisa in the Middle Ages (saints, knights and pilgrims, as the title of the exhibit held at Palazzo Fiumi e Fossi says).
On March 25, between 9am and 9:45am the parade in period costumes will start from different historical buildings in the center and all the actors will gather in Piazza dei Cavalieri at 9:45. Between 10am and 11am the various “gruppi storici“, associations which reenact the main events of the history of Pisa, will perform in Piazza dei Cavalieri and at 11:15 am the parade will leave Piazza dei Cavalieri and reach the Cathedral in time for the sun to hit the marble egg at 12pm. After the ceremony the parade will move back to Piazza dei Cavalieri with more exhibitions by the actors.
Many restaurants (Il Campano, Antica Trattoria da Bruno, Osteria La Grotta, Numero 11, La Buca di San Ranieri, Vineria, Ristorante Capodimonte, La Pergoletta, Ir Tegame and more) will offer medieval dinners and at 9pm the New Year’s concert will start in Piazza dei Cavalieri.
On March 26 at 3pm the church of San Sepolcro (it is said to have been the church of the Templars) and the Palazzo Fiumi e Fossi (standing where once stood the house tower of Count Ugolino) will be opened to the public. At 5pm, Piazza dei Cavalieri will host another show by the historic groups of Pisa.
On March 28, between 3pm and 5:30pm there will be more reenactments in Piazza dei Cavalieri. Between 5pm and 8pm in Piazza Toniolo-Via Bovio, “The Pisan Warrior“, a horse show reenacting the return of the Pisan knights from the Crusades in 1114). From 7pm, Lungarni Cittadini Street Band, music on the Lungarni. Other bands will be playing in Piazza La Pera, in Piazza Garibaldi, Piazza della Berlina and in Corso Italia. The best part of the Pisan New Year’s celebrations this year is the small-scale Luminara starting at 9pm. At 9:30 pm a crossbow competition will be held in Piazza dei Cavalieri and at 11pm, the Lungarni and Ponte di Mezzo will host fireworks. Please be aware that Ponte di Mezzo will be closed during part of the celebrations.
On Sunday March 29, starting at 3pm, there will be various shows in period costume in Piazza dei Cavalieri and in Piazza Toniolo and then a parade at 5:30pm. The Pisan New Year’s Regatta will close the celebrations at 6:30pm.
Another very interesting event held on March 28 and 29 is “Il Giardino degli Antici Sapori“, a series of tours of Giardino Scotto which will present the results of the archaeological excavations carried out between 2003 and 2005 in the area which have led to the discovery of a 6m deep stratification with traces of ancient Roman buildings, medieval buildings, and Renaissance buildings. Among the most interesting finds, the remains of a church dating back to the 11th century and of a 14th century hamlet with a square and a well. Food lovers will be able to learn about the traditional methodologies for the production of olive oil and other traditional products thanks to the presentations of an archaeologist, an oenologist and an olive oil expert. Local products will be available for purchase. Besides the guided tours, activities for children 3 and older will be organized.
If you plan on visiting Pisa during the New Year’s Celebrations, please check our vacation rental apartment Behind the Tower.