Pisa’s big traditional event is the Gioco del Ponte, held on the last Sunday of June, when twelve teams from the north and south banks of the city stage a series of “push-of-war” battles, shoving a seven-tonne carriage over the Ponte di Mezzo. First recorded in 1568, the contest and attendant parades are still held in Renaissance costume. Other celebrations – concerts, regattas, art events – are held throughout June as part of the Giugno Pisano (w giugnopisano.com), during which the city has a distinctly festive feel. The most spectacular event is the Luminara di San Ranieri (June 16), when buildings along both river banks are lit by 70,000 candles in honour of Pisa’s patron saint, and there’s a fireworks display at midnight. At 6.30pm the following evening, the various quarters of the city compete in the Palio di San Ranieri, a boat race along the Arno.
Italy’s four great maritime republics (Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice) take turns to host the Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare at the end of May or beginning of June. Four eight-man crews from each of the cities race against each other, in between festivities and parades.