If you are travelling to Pisa at the end of March, make sure to change the year on your calendar, because the city of the Leaning Tower will already be in 2014!
How can that be, you ask? You’re just going to have to scroll down to satisfy your curiosity.
Those Pisans seem to be one step ahead of the rest of us. Starting March 26th the city will already be in 2014. This is due to the fact that the New Year in Pisa is celebrated twice, not only on the first of January with the rest of Italy and the world, but also on March 25th.
The tradition has striking historical roots, tracing back to the age of the Roman empire when the Ancient Romans used to inaugurate the New Year on their calende, whose first dates correspond to the initial days of March.
It was in 45 BC that Julius Caesar moved the beginning of the year to the January 1st, and it has remained this way since.
However, when the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AC, a myriad of free Republics and municipalities started to settle in different Italian areas, adopting independent measures and currencies, forging their own coins, establishing dissimilar rules and taxes and even setting up different calendars. (This alone speaks to why Italy has so many different traditional regional cultures.)
One of these areas, Pisa, decided to be different, and in the 10th century, the Maritime Republic of Pisa fixed the 25th of March as the intital day of the year.
Why this specific date? The truth is that this choice has both religious and secular purposes. March the 25th is, in fact, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and the incarnation of Christ, which obviously occurs nine months before Christmas.
What’s more, the 25th of March is also the beginning of the Solar Year. The Pisan year corresponds to this, marked by a sort of solar clock, a physical phenomenon that is simple yet awe-inspiring: at exactly noon on March 25, a ray of sunlight passes through a round window in the Duomo, hitting a landing on a marble egg on a shelf topping a column next to the pulpit of Giovanni Pisano.
Even today, this event is celebrated with an historical parade and a religious ceremony that ends exactly at noon.
Perhaps you will already be hanging around Tuscany during that period. Maybe in Lucca or in Florence.
If you are and want to visit the future as well, don’t skip Pisa where you’ll also discover the charm and beauty of the Leaning Tower’s city.
(Don’t forget to be in Piazza dei Miracoli the 25th of March, before noon!)
Have you ever had the chance to attend the Pisan New Years? How was it?
Share your experience with us!