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Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Local Traditions

Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracens that night in 1005? Where does the story begins, where does it become a legend? In any case, for Pisa and its citizens Kinzica de' Sismondi is an unescapable myth, a tangible piece of the tradition of the Maritime Republic of Tuscany.

It is a fact that the Saracen pirates were for the Italian coasts of the Tyrrhenian sea the highest trouble for many centuries: it happens that around the eleventh century, these terrible predators of people and belongings pointed to the big targets and, after trying a year before to seize Pisa, one day in 1005 a.D. they landed and besieged Reggio Calabria. The Pope then turned to the powerful Pisan fleet which sailed towards the south of the peninsula to help the people of Calabria.

That is how the city of Pisa was exposed to the heavy attack of one of the most bloodthirsty pirates, Mujahid al-Amiri called 'Musetto' that sailed up the Arno river and attacked with his fierce hordes the Tuscan city. In the night, however, during the pirate mission, Kinzica de- Sismondi noticed the attack, recognized in the dark the terrible pirates, ran up Piazza dei Cavalieri, warned the consuls and so gave way to the portentous alarm bells that ruined the Saracens expected surprise. The reaction of the city of Pisa was by then well prepared: they attacked their enemies within their own city, it is said guided by the same Kinzika, they made a massacre and forced others to flee.

Historians have made a lot of effort to disprove the legend: even today one marvels on why such rage... perhaps because Kinzica was a woman, perhaps because we are not sure of her genealogy, but, for that matter, we aren't even certain of that of 'Musetto'.

However, one doubt remains: apart from clearly being inconvenient, no one has wondered what a gracious girl of such lineage and such great beauty was doing at night between the Arno loops and near the port. Naughty... anyway, never mind.

In return, historians rejected the idea that the attack was repressed in 1005, but ten years later; historians affirm that Kinzica is perhaps simply the name of one of the districts of Pisa, from the 11th century onwards.

In the midst of all these 'maybes', scholars have even doubts about the figure of the heroine, whereas the people of Pisa don't: Kinzica de Sismondi is one of the living figures of the folk tradition of Pisa to the point that a statue still located in the city at number 21 in via San Martino at Casa Tizzoni was dedicated to her in the 12th century. The statue actually dates from the third century a.D. but at the time it was commissioned precisely to be dedicated to Kinzica. There is a street dedicated to her but, above all, in 2005, was placed in Piazza Guerrazzi a statue dedicated specifically to Kinzica de Sismondi and created by the sculptor Angelo

If you want to discover the other beauties of the city of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, visit our website dedicated to the tours of Pisa and book your favourite one!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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