"The Campo Santo di Pisa: it is the only "Camposanto" (literally Holy Field) in the world - all the others are Cemeteries." (Curzio Malaparte)
According to tradition, the name of the place, Campo Santo, comes from the soil brought from Monte Golgota to Pisa by Bishop Ubaldo dei Lanfranchi on his return from the crusades. The soil apparently contained a few drops of blood from the body of Jesus that fell during his crucifixion. Based on legend, the special soil has the power to decompose the bodies of the deceased in one day.
The initial project was entrusted to the architect Giovanni di Simone, but the building work encountered numerous delays also due to the Pisan defeat in the Battle of Meloria, which took place in 1284, between the Republic of Genoa and the Maritime Republic of Pisa. In the fourteenth century, the project was under way again and in 1360 the walls began to be decorated with frescoes, using subjects related to the theme of life and death, the life of the saints and the life of Christ. The frescoes tell the story of Christian cosmogony in that period. The paintings were entrusted to the best artists of the time: Buonamico Buffalmacco, Francesco Traini, Giovanni Scorcialupi, Stefano da Firenze, Andrea Bonaiuti, Antonio Veneziano, Spinello Aretino, Taddeo Gaddi, Piero di Puccio and Benozzo Gozzoli.
In the 16th century, the Camposanto became the Pantheon of memories of the city of Pisa. The city's major personalities, such as the rectors and the most important teachers at the University of Pisa, the political rulers of the city and representatives of the most important families were also buried reusing the sarcophagi from the Roman era, works of great value and evidence of the city's ancient times.
A statue is dedicated to the great mathematician Leonardo Pisano, known as Leonardo Fibonacci, as he was the son of Guglielmo dei Bonacci. Fibonacci became famous for his travels to the Arab countries, where he learned valuable mathematical notions that allowed him to develop the famous Fibonacci Sequence.
The beauty of the Camposanto of Pisa is the union between ancient and modern, a romantic melancholy that made it a place to visit for travellers from all over the world. There is a famous story about the great Hungarian musician and composer Franz Liszt: in 1839, along with the Countess Marie d'Agult, his partner and mother of his three children, he stopped in Pisa where he held the first individual piano concert in history. Liszt was so fascinated by the place that he used it as e a source of inspiration for Totentanz, a work inspired by the Triumph the death of Buffalmacco.