Camposanto Monumentale

Detail of the Monumental Cemetery, Pisa

With the likes of the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa the Camposanto Monumentale is often somewhat overlooked, but this monumental cemetery is by no means inferior to other world-famous cemeteries. It apparently even holds sacred earth from the Crusades, hence the title “Holy Field”.

The Camposanto Monumentale can also be found near the Leaning Tower, the Baptistery and the Cathedral on the Campo dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), as the Piazza del Duomo is often called. The square owes its name to the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio who christened it the “Prato dei Miracoli” (meadow of miracles) after gaining an aerial view of the beautiful marble buildings contrasted against the green grass. 


The archways of the Camposanto Monumentale form the northern end of Piazza del Duomo, the cemetery itself being the youngest addition to the ensemble. Although the hustle and bustle around the Leaning Tower cannot be completely shut out, everything here is somewhat calmer and more serene. Generally, it is often advisable to visit the area early in the morning.


For mathematics fans the Camposanto offers a special highlight: the statue of the Pisan mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. Since there were no reliable records of what Fibonacci looked like, however, you should allow for a certain degree of artistic licence.
Anyone interested in frescoes and their preparatory drawings, known as sinopias, should head for the north wing and the Museo delle Sinopie. Unfortunately, several masterpieces were destroyed in an air raid in 1944. What could be saved was placed in the north wing of the Camposanto after its restoration and will one day be returned to its ancestral home. 


The preliminary red chalk drawings, or sinopias, came to light when the remaining frescoes were removed after the destruction. A sinopia was often drafted by the artist himself, and the fresco itself executed by assistants or pupils. In the Museo delle Sinopie, the sinopias of the Camposanto frescoes are displayed opposite the reproduced murals. A visit is worthwhile not only for art fanatics.

What To See