According to tradition, the Archbishop Ubaldo Lanfranchi filled the interior of Campo Santo (Holy Field) with soil from Golgotha, brought by Pisan ships returning from the fourth crusade. In reality, the cemetery was created to collect various burials and sarcophagi spread around the Cathedral.
Camposanto Monumentale was built starting with 1277 by Giovanni di Simone. After the death of the architect and the crisis caused by the Pisan defeat in the battle of Meloria of 1284, the works were slowed down.
Starting with 1360, the walls were decorated with frescoes with subjects related to the theme of life and death. During this period, Buonamico Buffalmacco painted the Triumph of Death, and Francesco Traini the Crucifixion. Shortly afterwards, Giovanni Scorcialupi painted the frescoes with the Stories of Christ, while Stefano da Firenze painted an Assumption above the eastern door.
The cycle was continued a few decades later by Andrea Bonaiuti, Antonio Veneziano and Spinello Aretino. Near the end of the 14th century, Taddeo Gaddi painted Stories of Job, and Piero di Puccio painted Stories of the Old Testament. This last series was completed only in the 15th century by Benozzo Gozzoli. In 1594, the Dal Pozzo Chapel was built, at the east end of the cemetery.
On July 27, 1944, a bomb from an Allied air raid hit the cemetery, causing serious damage to the frescoes, sculptures and sarcophagi. The restoration works were begun in 1945 and are still in progress.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Campo Santo is composed of a rectangular wall, with the side facing the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Outside, the wall is in white marble, with 43 blind arches, and two large portals. The main portal is decorated with a Gothic tabernacle, a work from the second half of the 14th century.
Inside, the structure resembles a cloister, with particularly decorated pointed arches, supported by slender columns and enriched by multi-lobed windows in Gothic style, completed in 1464.
HOW TO GET THERE
Camposanto Monumentale is located about 1.8 kilometers away from the Pisa Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Torre 1, located about 350 meters away, on the bus Lines 21, LAM Rossa and Navetta E.