The Piazza dei Cavalieri
(Knights' Square), named after the religious and military Order of the Cavalieri di San Stefano, is a little square flanked by fine ancient edifices which once were a centre of political decisions of Pisa in the medieval and Renaissance
times. At present not all of them are open to public for they belong today to the University of Pisa or the Scuola Normale Superiore. The modification of the square and the buildings, churches and palaces, around it was Giorgio Vasari
’s work in the 1500s.
One of the buildings around it to the north is the Palazzo dell’Orologio
(Clock Palace)(Picture 2). It rests on the historic tower Torre della Fame
(Tower of Hunger) where some members of the nobility such as Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca
and his sons who were stood accused of backing Pisan enemies died of hunger. History mentioned in the fiction of Dante’s Inferno.
Other buildings around the square are the Church of Santa Caterina
in Pisan Gothic
air which exhibits Nino Pisano’s pieces of art.
The Palazzo della Carovana
, or Palazzo dei Cavalieri (Picture 1), is the headquarters of the Scuola Normale Superiore building. Its intricately ornate façade was made by the father of art history, Giorgio Vasari.
The church named after the piazza, Chiesa di Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri
(Picture 3)(tel. 050 58 08 14), features one aisle at first but two other ones were incorporated in the 17th century. The church exhibits a bust executed by Donatello, Vasari, Jacopo Ligozzi, Alessandro Fei and Jacopo Chimenti da Empoli’s paintings, battles’ elements in which the Cavalieri fought against the Turks from the 16th to the 18th century among which is the Turkish pennant of Lepanto. The church was conceived for the Order of Chivalry of Saint Stephan, which was established to protect from piracy in the 16th century.
The little Church of Saint Sixtus, consecrated in the 12th century, is off the Piazza dei Cavalieri and an perfectly kept example of early Romanesque air.