Marina di Pisa, a beach town near the Leaning Tower
Visit Marina di Pisa, here's a bit of history and some useful tips, too
Marina di Pisa (also called simply "Marina") is a seaside town located just 12 km from Pisa and, unlikely the majority of the Tuscan cities, its foundation is rather recent. In 1606, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1587 to 1609, decided to reclaim the area by moving the River Arno mouth, as he believed that the south-west wind could block the normal flow of the Arno river, increasing the risk of flooding in Pisa.
On the left bank there was an hexagonal building surrounded by a moat, called "the Fort", which was the custom for the river traffic. Probably the first houses of fishermen were built around this structure, but the official foundation of the town dates back to 1872, when the municipality of Pisa drew up a plan of a grid-pattern town divided by three squares connected to Pisa by a major road, currently known as D'Annunzio Avenue (Viale d'Annunzio).
On June 23, 1892 a steam railway line from Pisa to Marina was inaugurated (later replaced by an electric one, no longer working as well), which contributed to its rapid growth as a tourist destination. The first restaurants were built in this area, as well as beach resorts and inns. Also many beautiful Art Nouveau and neo-medieval villas were built there, therefore many celebrities chose to buy a house in this new coastal town. Gabriele D'Annunzio, a famous Italian writer, poet and journalist, brought an house here and Marina di Pisa has been a source and inspiration of many of his poems. Once full of sandy beaches, Marina di Pisa has always fought against coastal erosion and recently the municipality built breakwaters and gravel beach to control erosion.
Marina di Pisa is still a renowned destination for summer tourism, offering many accommodation facilities. Beaches are both sandy or with pebbles, and along the coast there are many bathing facilities and restaurants. On public holidays and high season evenings, the "via Repubblica Pisana", better known as "Lungomare" (seafront), is closed to traffic and becomes a popular promenade frequented by local people and tourists. There's also a bike path that runs from Marina di Pisa to Tirrenia, the seaside town next to Marina. Fishing has always been an integral part of the cultural and economic life of Marina di Pisa community, and the fishing of tiny clams called "Arselle" has big relevance.
In 2013, the "Porto di Pisa" harbor was inaugurated just 10 minutes away from the city and its famous Leaning Tower and its international airport, Galileo Galilei. It is located in the center of the most extensive nature reserve of Tuscany, the Natural Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli, which covers about 24,000 hectares, ensuring that the view from the sea of dune plants is quite unique. The harbor has 354 seats and has been designed to be entirely walkable thus you can walk admiring the sea, the mouth of the Arno, the Apuan Alps and the port itself.
What to do in Marina di Pisa
Marina di Pisa offers relax and a beach break from the city, we suggest you to enjoy the seafront, a day at the (free) beaches or in a bathing establishment which is a structure with bathrooms, hot/cold showers, changing area, café and sometime restaurant. You can rent an umbrella with chairs for the day/week/month/season and the service is available seven days a week.
Particularly popular is the "Bocca d'Arno" (0r "Boccadarno"), the area at the mouth of the Arno river, characterized by fishing nets called "Retoni". This area is very pleasant and picturesque, you can see the river, the Natural Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli (located on the opposite shore) and the mountains. The people of Marina di Pisa and Pisa love this spot.
The harbor is a perfect spot for a walk and you can have a drink or a coffee here.
The ancient train station is still visible even if it has been transformed in a private house. In Marina there are still some villas dating back to the late nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century and many of them were built by wealthy Florentine families. Villa Bondi in the Baleari square (a "Historic Houses in Italy" site) was built in 1909 by the Florentine Angelo Bondi, owner of "Manufacture of Signa", a manufacturer of crockery and decorations with which the building is still in part adorned. Villa Galli Dunn (1905), the neo-gothic Villa Albites and the Carovigno Palace (featuring a peculiar tower) in Gorgona square are among the most eclectic buildings. If you decide to go to Marina di Pisa don't forget to indulge in seafood dishes and to taste the spaghetti with tiny clams ("Pasta con le Arselle") and the mixed fried seafood.
At the end of the day you can watch the sunset by the sea. Usually Marina di Pisa offers really beautiful and romantic sunsets, especially during the winter.
Every years small summer events and food festivals are held. The most important event is "Marenia", which also involves Tirrenia, and the program include shows, concerts outdoor markets and other initiatives.