"Ahi, Pisa vituperio delle genti"
("Ouch, Pisa disgrace of all the peoples)"
The 33th canto in the Inferno of the Divine Comedy is set in the circle of the traitors, where Dante meets Ugolino della Gherardesca, who held important political roles. Accused of high treason in the naval defeat of Meloria against Genoa, he was imprisoned together with his four children in the Torre della Muda (later called 'Hunger Tower', as a plaque on the facade reports), located in Piazza dei Cavalieri. No one has ever known what really happened inside the tower. When the door was opened after eight months, five corpses were found that had all been chewed, probably by mice.
The line “Poscia, più che ‘l dolor, potè ‘l digiuno" ("Afterwards, the fasting was harder to bear than the pain") is open to different interpretations. It seems that Dante deliberately wanted to leave the question unsolved and wrapped in the mystery. Did Count Ugolino really chew the corpses of his sons or did he die along with them in pain and sorrow ?
In Piazza dei Cavalieri, in addition to the aforementioned tower, we also find Palazzo della Carovana, site of the Scuola Normale Superiore founded by Napoleon in 1810, and the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, which preserves Turkish flags conquered in the battle of Lepanto (1571).