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What do with a great past?

Pisa is uncertain about his future by rediscovering its roots and re-reading his story.
Today, in the last ten years, archaeologists and good luck, have, apparently, finally solved the mystery of the origins of Pisa that impassioned ancient geographers, modern scholars, historians of the twentieth century: the city had no Ligurian or Greek origin, but Etruscan; and from the beginning linked to the sea. Thus, the great medieval expansion ceases, to a certain extent, to be a historical parenthesis, as centuries-old and glorious, but it is the culmination of a destiny written in the genes of Pisa and Pisa. The water, which could be deadly with the presence of coastal lagoons and wetlands surrounding large pools populated with Anopheles, was used to ensure safety defensive men and ships, while the rivers, and navigated the governed, praised the role of liaison between the center of Tuscany and the Tyrrhenian first and then the Mediterranean, in an increasingly wider.
A role never quite forgotten. Even at the beginning of the Middle Ages, when collapsed civilian and military institutions of the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean trade was being rarefying, a letter from Pope Gregory the Great tells us that 603 of the Pisani (no longer ruled by the Byzantines, not still subject to the Lombards) were ready to move with their thin warships to coast to plunder, nor the envoy of the pope was able to ask them to stop.
From the few documentary news reached us, it seems likely that Pisa has retained over the centuries, even if for a business that did not go beyond the small coastal Tyrrhenian ability to build boats and go to sea (the know-how, in short ) which were then in the second half of the tenth century, the origin of an expansion that has the miraculous.
Sometimes alone, sometimes supported by Genoa, the future rival, Pisa brought his ship and his victorious warriors in Sardinia, Palermo still Muslim, against the major cities of the North African coast, the First Crusade (and if it is true that the great fleet of 120 ships led by the archbishop himself Daiberto was late a few days to participate in the capture of Jerusalem, was also crucial to ensure coastal and maritime surveillance of the links), then in the great enterprise that led to the conquest of the Balearic Majorca. After this date (1115) seemed to quiet down impulses warriors and Pisani, though never completely forget a certain propensity to warfare, preferring to build on good terms obtained by the Muslim rulers and Christians to trade in all major ports of Mediterranean.
No coincidence that the greatest mathematician of the medieval West was Leonardo Pisano (or Fibonacci), called by his father to lie (Bedijaha now in Algeria) as a child to be educated by Arab scholars, and here, passionately to the new math "numbers Indians "and zero, deepened his knowledge in the travel business and politics in Egypt, in the Holy Land to Constantinople, in Sicily, in Provence. Yes, sometimes it seemed fair to say that even if Galileo could have been born somewhere else without that his life will be changed too, but could only be Leonardo Pisano.

The age of pride they had a lot of the Pisani. Already a chronicle of the 1100 Venetian writes that "they acted like they owned the world." They had to overcome the Romans as an example, and compared their wars against the Saracens than those they fought against the Carthaginians, praised their imposing new cathedral as "a temple of white marble, the most beautiful of the ancient ones." In the mid twelfth century Arab geographer al-Idrisi, writing for the Norman King Roger, describes it thus: "It is one of the city of rum fame is its name, expanded its territory; of burgeoning markets and have well-inhabited houses, spacious walkways and extensive campaigns of abundant orchards and gardens and sowing unbroken. His state is powerful, the memories of his terrible deeds, the forts are high, fertile lands, abundant water, wonderful monuments. The population has ships and horses and is ready to shipping companies over other countries. The city is situated on a river that it comes from the side of a mountain Langobardia. This river is large and has mills on the shores and gardens. "
Around the great domed church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, patron of Pisa in the Middle Ages, built the Baptistery, the Campanile (which will challenge for centuries and centuries the laws of physics) and the Cemetery, an architectural complex, for its ability to complete to express very high levels to the essence of a civilization, was, not unreasonably, compared to the Acropolis of Athens. Rudolf Borchardt, a fine German scholar, wrote well that "the four monuments are four incarnations of the spirit of Pisa and all turn to the other one the mighty enigmatic faces, shoulders and Tuscany."
And proud of the Pisani isolation ended. Fiercely loyal to the imperial Ghibellines, which since the days of Frederick Barbarossa were closely linked and forever. Vainly hoped then to Frederick II, Manfredi, Corradino, in Henry VII. Suns against Genoa on the sea, alone against the Guelph cities of Tuscany, alone against the mighty crown of Aragon in Sardinia. Yet, a few days before the defeat of Meloria, which in 1284 marked the final supremacy of Genoa Tyrrhenian, the Pisan fleet would humiliate the Ligurian city with a rain of arrows tipped with silver. There were, then, more than nine thousand Pisan prisoners languishing in jails for years and years of Genoa, among them a man of letters, Rustichello Pisa, to which a more prominent prisoner, the Venetian Marco Polo dictated the book then popularized in French as The Travels.

After conquering much of 1406 Florentine ruling class Pisa emigrated, especially in Sicily, was in that kingdom that families like the students, Rau, Da Settimo, the Galletti found princely honors, and political offices. As with the grand city of Pisa will pass and long-rebellious subject to the cultural center of the new state, the ruling class that was bound rather than reformed or agricultural property or university. Even if – even shared with Livorno now in full swing – new glories were reserved for the old seafaring town: they were placed in her seat and the arsenals of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, whose galleys were destined to fight the Turks at sea . As evidenced by the square created by the genius of the new urban order by Giorgio Vasari, the Piazza dei Cavalieri, which is among the most beautiful and harmonious in Italy (only maybe you decide to take off the asphalt improvident …).
Here, this intervention is an example of the difficulties that Pisa to enhance the beauty of its urban, architectural and landscape: an incredible number of Romanesque churches and monasteries, houses and towers survived bombardment transformations, the sweetest curves of the Arno River, the fifteenth-square market, the colors of certain sunsets over the sea.
Guilty of mass tourism that is limited to the Square and the Tower? Or even the Pisani who seem afflicted by a strange disease that some have called pisaggine: What have you seen like people too much and now more confident in their ability to be worthy, in new ways, of its great past. Everything to be addressed is that not lavorone? That does not happen in a hard time?

Mark Tangheroni, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Pisa