Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Florence 2012 Journal: Pisa and Pistoia

Pisa & Pistoia

On the 5th of November we visited Pisa via Pistoia. During our time in the latter we saw the Romanesque church called ‘San Giovanni Afuera la Citta’ (St. John Outside of the City).

The church (below) is slightly more influenced by Pisan architecture than that of Florence. Notice the aqueduct arcades that are decorated with rhombuses‘ on the underside. Although this is a feature found briefly on the façade of Santa Maria Novella and San Miato al Monte, it is far more prominent in the Pisan Piazza dei Miracoli (in fact, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the cathedral and Baptistery are all completely covered in these arcades - pictured below).

Once in Pisa, we visited the Baptistery. It began construction in 1152 and was finished by 1363. The chief architect was initially Diotisalvi, later replaced by Nicola Pisano (who is responsible for the Pulpit inside). It is circular in shape and alludes to the belief in Resurrection while it also has a double shell construction on the roof. The inner roof credited to Diotisalvi is a pyramid shape; and Pisano’s roof is the outer shape that we see with the Cupola sat on top. The result of this structure is that the acoustics are perfect and on our visit we were lucky enough to see a demonstration from one of the curators!

Next we saw the cemetery: ‘Camposanto’ (Holy Field -1278). It was built by the same architect that oversaw the construction of the Leaning Tower, Giovanni di Simone. It is supposedly built around the ’Holy Soil’ that was plundered from Golgatha during the crusades (11th-13th century AD), hence its name. It is an oblong shaped cloister and thus stylistically Gothic. However, it is not entirely original due to the fact that it had to be rebuilt (albeit rebuilt identical to what stood before) after it was bombed by the allies in 1944.

Pisa’s Cathedral (Santa Maria Assunta) began construction in 1064 under the architect Buscheto. It is a prime example of Pisan Romanesque and the façade was built by a prominent artist from that era called Rainaldo. In keeping with Pisa trying to be the ‘New Rome’, they imitated the columns of the Pantheon. In doing so they made the columns out of one singular slab of rock - which is very impressive craftsmanship. The coffered ceiling is a 16th Century Medici addition following a fire that had damaged the previous roof.

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