Plymouth and Pisa – two cities, two towers, one airport – the similarities and differences

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor

William Telford in Pisa

William Telford in Pisa

 THE Herald’s Business section is gaining an international reputation with the Italian city of Pisa the latest to extend an invitation to see how its economy is growing.

Last year, Herald Business explored Leipzig, in eastern Germany, where it found the regional centre, heavily based on manufacturing, had similarities with Plymouth.

Now Pisa, famous for its leaning tower, has followed suit, but turned out to be a very different type of city, though, again, with parallels in Plymouth.

The Tuscan city relies heavily on tourism, with its leaning tower in the Piazza dei Miracoli world famous.

But it is seen as a day-trip destination and is investing heavily on promoting its other attractions in a bid to entice long-stay visitors.

The airport, right on the edge of the city, is seen as hugely important – and to the region too.

Manufacturing is not unknown, with scooters and luxury yachts built in the area, but is not the most significant sector – unless you include leather production.

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, agriculture generally, particularly food, is hugely important to a city which values food and drink and has kept globalisation at bay, protecting its indigenous, often family-run, independent enterprises.

But the most important industry, and the one on which Pisa is pinning future hopes, is education.

The city has three universities, a huge student body, some of the most highly educated citizens in Europe, and is looking at cutting-edge research, particularly in medicine and robotics, as the foundation for spin-off companies and patents.

It also sees languages, especially English, as key, being the tongue of business, and indeed it was leading language college British School Pisa which invited The Herald to Pisa.

During the next few weeks, The Herald Business section will be revealing more about how Pisa is meeting its challenges and growing its economy.

Some, such as spinning-off businesses from its successful universities, will be familiar in Plymouth.

Others – such as the significance of Pisa’s airport – may have lessons for us.

But both are historic cities with much to recommend them to visitors and investors.

And both have towers, though, of course, our Smeaton’s Tower doesn’t lean.

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(Publicity generated by Dorcas Media).



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