Pisa: not just the Tower


In Tuscany even a failing can be beautiful, can’t it? Just think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that dominates the Piazza dei Miracoli: it’s one of the most well-known Italian monuments in the world thanks to its age-old inclination. You can see its unique outline in many movies, from The Simpsons to Superman.
But the Leaning Tower is certainly not the only treasure that this city has preserved, and this month I’ve chosen to lead you in a discover of what the province of Pisa has to offer – and not just in regards to art.

I thought I’d tell you what I’ve read about Santa Maria del Monte, certainly not a tourist destination: a little village situated a few kilometres away from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Here, you’ll find the shoe designer Claudia Ciuti’s company, where some special shoes have been made for the new first lady of the USA, Michelle Obama.
After dressing Jodie Foster, Ivana Trump and Vanessa Williams’ feet, Claudia Ciuti’s Made in Tuscany comes, or more accurately returns, to the White House, since Nancy Reagan also wore Claudia’s shoes. As many people agree, Italy, and in this case Tuscany in particular, is far superior to America when it comes to fashion (fare le scarpe is an Italian popular saying meaning to double-cross somebody, in this case it perfectly fits in the “shoes” context).
This, however, is one of those cases where the popular saying “nemo propheta in patria” is correct: in fact, while in Italy Claudia is almost unknown, in the USA, New York to be more precise, the renowned capital city of fashion, her boutique has been a firm fixture of the prestigious Madison Avenue for the last 14 years. Madion Avenue is nicknamed the Italian Mile, due to its high concentration of the most important Italian labels (Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Valentino, Versace…). We only hope that the shoe designer from Fiesole will become as famous in Italy as she has been overseas; and, considering how popular the new American President is, we hope his wife might give her this well-deserved chance.

Once again from overseas we get news regarding the province of Pisa, Volterra in particular. The second instalment of Stephenie Meyer‘s successful series, New Moon, is set just among the steep, small, medieval streets of this village, built upon a 500 metre high mountain-top.
Following on from the instalment Twilight, the love-story of Bella and Edward, made even more complicated by Edward being a vampire, plays out among the Tuscan hills. Fans from around the world, after having read the novel, can’t wait for the forthcoming movie which is also supposed to be set in Tuscany, respecting the original setting of the story. Based on the popularity of the first film, I’m sure the second one will also be a hit.
Meanwhile, the most passionate fans of the writer Meyer have organised an official tour to discover Volterra and its surroundings from July 4th to 9th. It’s called “Viaggio a Volterra e leggende di Vampiri” (Trip to Volterra and legends about vampires), this event also has evening screenings about vampires, obviously! What better than a fan comment to promote Tuscany: “If Florence wasn’t a good enoough reason for visiting this amazing part of Italy, along comes Twilight and gives us another!”
We suggest those who are going to spend their holiday in Volterra pay attention to the sunset when, in the shade of the evening (a guardian of the old Etruscan enigma), a new moon will be lighting the sky and turning Volterra into the Vampires city.

I’m going to end this unusual trip into the province of Pisa by finally guiding you to blu dipinto di blu, as a very popular Italian song says…but don’t panic, there’s no need for you to fly (Volare, the title of the above mentioned Italian song) as Modugno sang. You only need to travel along the Arno river through Pisa which, according to the well-known Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, “is such a wide and pleasant view that you may even fall in love with it!”. Since a few time, the eighteenth century “sky blue” colour has broken in the warm, reddish, ochre buildings which sit one after another along the riverside: it’s the Blue Palace, a new museum opened in November 2008.
The Blue Palace is a Pisan historical building where you can now admire the “Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa’s” (a well-known Italian banking house) home and art collection, organised as it was a luxurious and noble house, furnished with tables, other decorative objects and very famous personalities’ paintings, such as Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Giovan Battista Tempesti.

And if blue is the colour of happiness as research carried out at the Univerity of Sussex states, I leave you to your beautiful holidays in and around Pisa, and promise that during our next editions we will carry on discovering those priceless treasures unknown to most.

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