'My Brilliant Friend' is an international best-seller and acclaimed TV series that chronicles the friendship between Elena and Lila from the 1950s to the present day. The plot leaves Naples in the second season of the series to arrive in Pisa, the charming Tuscan town that welcomes Elena into her arms with a scholarship to one of the best universities in the world, the Normale. In this article, we take you to all the places in Pisa that feature in 'My Brilliant Friend' and have contributed to the success of the series with their incredible beauty.
The Scuola Normale was founded by Napoleon in 1810 as a twin of the École Normale Supériore in Paris.
Palazzo della Carovana has been its main seat since 1846. This magnificent building was built on a medieval palace between 1562 and 1564 based on a project by the famous architect, Giorgio Vasari.
Inside Palazzo della Carovana, Franco Mari, Elena's boyfriend, takes a university exam at the beginning of the second episode, then rushes out and looks out onto Piazza dei Cavalieri to seek out Elena.
Piazza dei Cavalieri is located less than a 10 minute walk from the famous Leaning Tower and offers a glimpse into much of the history that has occured in the city.
Buildings that are worthy of note include Palazzo dell'Orologio, mentioned by Dante in the 33rd canto of Inferno when he tells the story of its owner, Count Ugolino della Gherardesca. Also pay attention to the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri which houses the banners looted from the Turks during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Timpano College has been the student residence for the Normale University since 1932 and it's here that Elena lives during her university years.
Her window overlooks the Lungarno, the veritable soul of Pisa. The Lungarno is the promenade on the Arno river, which after crossing Florence and Tuscany, flows into the sea of Pisa. Here, Elena and Franco come across a protest march following the university exam referred to in the previous scene. The scenes set in the Timpano College were actually shot at the Royal Hotel Victoria (not far from the college).
Didn't you hate the moment when Elena throws the precious letters that Lila had written and entrusted to her off the bridge? This emblematic scene occurs on the most important bridge in the city that many Pisans cross day after day: Ponte di Mezzo.
The bridge, which was rebuilt after the bombing of the Second World War, separates the city of Pisa in Tramontana (north of the Arno) and Mezzogiorno (south of the Arno). On the Ponte di Mezzo, the Gioco del Ponte takes place every year in June, a tradition of medieval origin that sees the various districts of the city compete in the two Mezzogiorno / Tramontana teams.
After running away to avoid their friends, Elena and Franco find themselves at the Marciano shop (now Guess Marciano) in Corso Italia.
Corso Italia is the main shopping street in the city, featuring the big name brands but also small local shops that remain standing next to the glittering buildings of the multinational brands. Here, after shopping, they take the time to enjoy some Pisan street-food, schiacciata con cecina (chickpea flatbread).