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Museo Nazionale di San Matteo


Pisa, a city of art and history in Tuscany, Italy, is renowned for its iconic Leaning Tower. However, beyond this famous landmark, Pisa offers a wealth of other cultural treasures, including the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo. Housed within a former Benedictine monastery, this museum showcases an impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance art, providing visitors with a glimpse into the city's rich artistic heritage. Situated in the heart of Pisa, just a short walk from the Piazza dei Miracoli where the Leaning Tower stands, the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is easily accessible and offers an enriching experience for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

The Building

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is housed in a former Benedictine monastery, which was founded in the 12th century. The monastery was built in the Romanesque style, and its most distinctive feature is the cloister. The cloister is a square, arcaded courtyard with a well in the center. The arches are supported by columns, which are decorated with capitals carved with scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints.

The monastery was enlarged and remodeled several times over the centuries, and it eventually became one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in Tuscany. In the 16th century, the monastery was suppressed by the Medici family, and it was converted into a hospital. The hospital was closed in the 19th century, and the building was then used as a prison.

In 1869, the building was finally converted into a museum. The museum's collection includes works of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. The cloister is still one of the most popular features of the museum, and it is often used for concerts and other events.

The Collection

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo boasts a remarkable collection that spans different artistic periods, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The museum's medieval art collection is particularly noteworthy, featuring masterpieces by renowned artists such as Giovanni Pisano. One of the highlights of the collection is Pisano's "Madonna and Child with Saints," an exquisitely crafted marble sculpture that captures the essence of Gothic art. This iconic work depicts the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, flanked by four saints. The intricate details and expressive faces of the figures showcase Pisano's exceptional skill and artistry.

Moving on to the Renaissance period, the museum showcases a diverse range of paintings and sculptures that exemplify the artistic innovations of this era. Among the notable works is Benozzo Gozzoli's "Madonna and Child with Saints," an enchanting painting that portrays the Virgin Mary surrounded by a host of saints. Gozzoli's use of vibrant colors and meticulous attention to detail brings the scene to life, creating a sense of harmony and serenity.

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo also houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including ceramics, textiles, and goldsmith work. These objects provide valuable insights into the daily lives and cultural practices of the people of Pisa during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Visitors can admire intricate ceramic pieces, finely woven textiles, and exquisite goldsmith work that demonstrate the craftsmanship and artistry of the period.

The Medieval Section

The medieval section of the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo houses a significant collection of art from the 12th to the 15th centuries, showcasing the evolution of artistic styles and techniques during this period. Visitors can trace the development of Pisan art from the Romanesque period, characterized by its strong Byzantine influences, to the rise of the Gothic style, with its emphasis on naturalism and emotional expression.

One of the highlights of the medieval section is the collection of sculptures by Giovanni Pisano, a renowned artist of the 13th century. His works, such as the Madonna and Child and the Pulpit of Sant'Andrea, demonstrate his mastery of marble carving and his ability to convey a sense of movement and drama in his figures. Another important artist represented in the collection is Nicola Pisano, Giovanni's father, known for his innovative approach to sculpture, which helped to usher in the Gothic style in Italy.

The medieval section also boasts a rich collection of paintings, including works by Cimabue, one of the pioneers of the Italian Gothic style, and Taddeo Gaddi, a pupil of Giotto. These paintings offer a glimpse into the religious and cultural life of Pisa during the Middle Ages and provide a valuable record of the development of Italian painting techniques.

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo's medieval collection is not only an artistic treasure trove but also an important resource for scholars and historians studying the art and culture of this fascinating period in Italian history.

The Renaissance Section

The Renaissance period brought about significant changes in the artistic landscape of Italy, and the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo houses a noteworthy collection of Renaissance artworks that showcase this transformation. In the museum's Renaissance section, visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant colors, detailed brushwork, and humanist themes that characterized this era.

One of the highlights of the collection is the "Madonna and Child with Saints" (c. 1470-1475) by Benozzo Gozzoli, a painting that epitomizes the gentle grace and serene beauty associated with the Early Renaissance. The Madonna's tender gaze and the surrounding angelic figures exude a sense of tranquility and devotion, inviting viewers to contemplate the sacred moment portrayed.

Another notable work is the "Madonna and Child with Saints" (c. 1500-1510) by Domenico Beccafumi, which showcases the influence of the High Renaissance style. The painting's rich palette, intricate details, and harmonious composition demonstrate Beccafumi's mastery of the techniques and aesthetics of the period.

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo also features works by other prominent Renaissance artists, including Fra Bartolomeo, Andrea del Sarto, and Pontormo. These artists contributed to the development of new artistic styles and techniques that laid the foundation for the Baroque and Mannerist movements that would follow.

Temporary exhibitions

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo also hosts temporary exhibitions that explore different themes and artistic movements related to the museum's permanent collection. These exhibitions often feature works of art from other museums and private collections, as well as new acquisitions.

Temporary exhibitions are a great way to learn more about the museum's collection and to see new works of art that may not be on display in the permanent galleries. To find out about upcoming exhibitions, visitors can check the museum's website or follow the museum on social media.

Guided Tours

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo offers guided tours in Italian, English, and French. Tours can be booked in advance online or at the museum's ticket office. Guided tours last about an hour and a half and cover the highlights of the museum's collection, including the medieval and Renaissance sections. Private guided tours are also available for groups of 10 or more.

For visitors who want a more in-depth experience of the museum's collection, guided tours are a great option. The knowledgeable and experienced guides can provide insights into the history of the museum, the works of art, and the artists who created them. Guided tours are also a good way to learn more about the history of Pisa and its role in the development of Italian art and culture.


The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is committed to providing a welcoming and accessible environment for all visitors. The museum is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators providing access to all levels of the building. There are also accessible restrooms and a dedicated parking space for visitors with disabilities.

Visitors with disabilities can borrow wheelchairs from the museum's ticket office. The museum also offers a variety of sensory-friendly resources, such as tactile maps and audio guides. Visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing can request a sign language interpreter.

The museum staff is trained to assist visitors with disabilities. They can provide information about the museum's accessible features and help visitors plan their visit. Visitors with disabilities who have any questions or need assistance are encouraged to contact the museum in advance.

Here are some additional tips for visitors with disabilities:

  • When planning your visit, please let the museum know if you have any special needs.
  • The museum offers a variety of guided tours that are tailored to the needs of visitors with disabilities.
  • The museum's website has a dedicated page with information about accessibility.
  • Visitors with disabilities can also contact the museum's visitor services department by phone or email.

Museum Shop

At the end of your visit to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, be sure to stop by the museum shop for a variety of souvenirs and books related to the museum's collection and the history of Pisa. You'll find a wide range of items to choose from, including postcards, posters, books on art and history, and replicas of some of the museum's most famous works of art, such as the "Madonna and Child with Saints" by Simone Martini. The museum shop is located on the ground floor of the museum, just before the exit. It is open during the same hours as the museum itself and accepts cash, credit cards, and debit cards.

Opening Hours

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday. On weekdays, it is open from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM, while on weekends and public holidays, it is open from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum itself closes.

To stay up-to-date on any changes to the museum's opening hours, visitors can check the museum's website or call the museum directly. The website also provides information on any special events or exhibitions that may affect the museum's opening hours.


The current admission price for the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is €8 for adults. There are discounts available for students, seniors, and families. Children under the age of 18 are admitted free of charge.

You can purchase tickets online or at the museum. If you purchase tickets online, you will be able to skip the line at the ticket office.


To purchase tickets online, visit the museum's website. Select the date and time you would like to visit, and then add the tickets to your cart. Once you have finished shopping, click on the "Checkout" button. You will be prompted to create an account or sign in to your existing account. Once you have created an account or signed in, you will be able to enter your payment information and complete your purchase.

At the Museum:

To purchase tickets at the museum, go to the ticket office. The ticket office is located in the entrance hall of the museum. You can pay for your tickets with cash or credit card.


The following discounts are available for admission to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo:

  • Students: €5
  • Seniors (65+): €5
  • Families (2 adults and 2 children): €15

To receive a discount, you must show your student ID, senior ID, or family ID at the ticket office.

How to Get There

The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is conveniently located within a 10-minute walk from the Pisa Centrale railway station. Exit the station towards the city center and follow the tree-lined Viale Bonaini. Turn left onto Via San Martino, and the museum will be on your right.

If you are driving, you can park in the paid parking garage at Piazza dei Miracoli, which is about a 15-minute walk from the museum. Alternatively, you can try your luck finding free street parking in the surrounding streets.

Bus routes 4, 11, and 14 stop within a short walk from the museum. Get off at the "San Martino 2" bus stop for the closest stop to the museum's entrance.

Traveling by foot offers a great opportunity to explore Pisa's historic center and soak up its medieval atmosphere. From Piazza dei Miracoli, take Via Santa Maria until you reach Via San Martino. Turn right onto Via San Martino, and the museum will be on your right.

Where to Eat Nearby

After a visit to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, you may want to refuel with a delicious meal or snack. Fortunately, the museum is surrounded by a variety of restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes and budgets.

For a quick bite, try the Antica Bottega del Caffè, located just a few steps from the museum. This charming café offers a wide selection of sandwiches and pastries as well as freshly brewed coffee.

If you're looking for something more substantial, consider Osteria in domo, located just around the corner from the museum. This family-run restaurant serves traditional Tuscan cuisine such as pasta al ragù and bistecca alla fiorentina.

For those with a sweet tooth, Gelateria de' Medici, situated across the street from the museum, offers a variety of delicious gelato and sorbetto flavors.

To find these restaurants and cafes, simply follow the signs from the museum or ask a member of the staff for directions.

What Else to See in Pisa

In addition to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa offers a wealth of other attractions that visitors may find of interest. The city is perhaps best known for its iconic leaning tower, which is part of the Piazza dei Miracoli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other notable attractions include the Piazza dei Cavalieri, which is home to several historical buildings, including the Palazzo della Carovana and the Palazzo dell'Orologio; the Botanical Garden of Pisa, which is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world; and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which houses a collection of sculptures and other works of art from the Duomo. Visitors can also enjoy a stroll along the banks of the River Arno, which offers stunning views of the city.

Insider Tip

To get the most out of your visit to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, take some time to explore the beautiful cloister. This peaceful oasis is a great place to relax and reflect on the art you've just seen. Be sure to look for the intricate carvings on the capitals of the columns, which depict scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints. And don't miss the stunning views of the city of Pisa from the upper level of the cloister. It's the ideal place to end your visit to this remarkable museum.

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