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Santa Maria della Spina

In a city of remarkable architecture, this Gothic church on the River Arno is considered to be one of Pisa’s most impressive structures despite its small size.

What Santa Maria della Spina lacks in size it surely makes up in beauty: the white, ornate facade is considered one of the most impressive in all of Europe. The church occupies a perch overlooking the river and attracts visitors for its 13th-century Gothic architecture.

Walk along the River Arno to reach the church. By day the white marble is almost luminescent beneath the warm Tuscan sun, while at night floodlights make it stand out in a different way. Visit on a evening when the river is calm to take photos of the church’s reflection on the water’s unbroken surface.

While many consider this tiny church to be waterfront, prior to 1871 it was even closer to the River Arno. As the water in the river rose it was decided that Santa Maria della Spina was in danger of being damaged and was moved to higher ground.

Spend some time inspecting the exquisite detail of the church’s exterior. On its roof sits a series of tabernacles, each containing a statue. The church’s west-facing front features three gables with stunning circular cutouts. Look for the statue of the Virgin and Child by the Pisan sculptor, Giovanni di Balduccio, which adorns the space between the gables.

Enter through the heavy wooden door to see the light flood through the rose windows, forming beautiful patterns on the floor. A tabernacle that is said to once have held a thorn from Jesus’ “crown” is located on the left wall of the nave. While the inside is much more reserved than the exterior, the breathtaking sculpture, Madonna of the Rose, set in its center is widely considered a masterpiece of its era.

The Santa Maria della Spina is located just outside Pisa’s historic center and can be reached on foot from Pisa’s Leaning Tower. A bus services the area and Pisa’s central train station is just a short walk away. The church has sporadic opening hours, which can be checked at Pisa’s tourist office. Admission is free.


Guide to Exploring around Church of Santa Maria della Spina


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NH Pisa ¥6,839
NH Pisa

NH Pisa

Piazza Stazione 2, Pisa, PI
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Mezzogiorno and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is only a 1-minute walk.

    Hotel Bologna ¥6,659
    Hotel Bologna

    Hotel Bologna

    Via Mazzini 57, Pisa, PI
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Pisa City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Mezzogiorno and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is 8 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 25 minutes.

      Le Logge B&B ¥9,117
      Le Logge B&B

      Le Logge B&B

      2 Via Titta Ruffo angolo Corso Italia, Pisa
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Pisa City Centre, this townhouse accommodation is within a 10-minute walk of Mezzogiorno and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is 9 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 25 minutes.

        You & Me ¥3,376
        You & Me

        You & Me

        Lungarno Mediceo 40, Pisa, PI
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Pisa City Centre, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of Teatro Verdi and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Pisa Central Station is 13 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 25 minutes.

          Hotel Relais Dell Orologio ¥8,464
          Hotel Relais Dell Orologio

          Hotel Relais Dell Orologio

          Via Uguccione della Faggiola 12-14, Pisa, PI
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Pisa City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Torre dei Gualandi, Leaning Tower, and University of Pisa. Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral of Pisa are also within 10 minutes. Pisa San Rossore Station is 15 minutes by foot and Pisa Central Station is 19 minutes.

            Time Out ¥3,940
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            Time Out

            Via Santa Maria, 50, Pisa
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Pisa City Centre, this townhouse accommodation is within a 5-minute walk of Torre dei Gualandi and Leaning Tower. Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral of Pisa are also within 10 minutes. Pisa San Rossore Station is 15 minutes by foot and Pisa Central Station is 17 minutes.

              Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast ¥13,542
              Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast

              Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast

              Piazza Giovan Battista Donati, Pisa, Provincia di Pisa
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Pisa City Centre, this bed & breakfast is within a 5-minute walk of Piazza Garibaldi and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 15 minutes. Pisa Central Station is 14 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 20 minutes.

                Hotel Leonardo ¥5,891
                Hotel Leonardo

                Hotel Leonardo

                Via Tavoleria, 17, Pisa, PI
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Pisa City Centre, this inn is steps from Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri and University of Pisa. Leaning Tower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 15 minutes. Pisa Central Station is 15 minutes by foot and Pisa San Rossore Station is 20 minutes.