The Italian city of Pisa in Tuscany is best known for its world-famous leaning tower. This unique architectural anomaly – the Leaning Tower or the Torre Pendente is actually the bell tower of Cathedral of Pisa.
In 1173 its construction started and it started leaning. The ground beneath the tower experienced subsidence because of which the tower started leaning.
That said, the tower isn’t the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city.
The half-hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants.
Things To Do In Pisa, Italy
Pisa is divided into 4 historical quarters. There is much more than the leaning tower in the city and several different walking itineraries are available.
Piazza dei Miracoli
The Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles is to the North of central Pisa. It is an UNESCO World Heritage site and contains the city’s most famous sights:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The entry ticket to the Leaning Tower is better when booked online. Your stay can be of 45 minutes of 3 hours, depending on your choice.
Climbing the tower lends you a spectacular view of the city’s architecture. Nearby the tower is the Cathedral of Pisa, which sports gothic, Romanesque as well as Renaissance-style art.
For a rare photo of the Leaning Tower climb the dome of Battistero. And it is not just the photo, but you can play with echo in this octagonal dome.
- Duomo di Pisa (Pisa Cathedral) – a splendid cathedral, containing artwork by Giambologna, Della Robbia, and other major artists
- Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John) – a large round Romanesque dome with many sculptured decorations and a fine view up top; climb this if you want a great view with the Leaning Tower visible in your photos. Arabic-style pavement, pulpit by Nicola Pisano (father of Giovanni), and fine octagonal font
- Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery) – a huge cemetery building with lots of interesting art, including a collection of ancient Roman sarcophagi and splendid medieval frescoes by the “Master of the Triumph of Death”. There is also a 19th-century statue of the famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, a native of the city
- Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – has sculptures and paintings formerly preserved in the Cathedral and the cemetery. Some of the more unusual are bronze griffins from Syria captured by the Crusaders. You can also capture nice photos from the Tower and the Duomo from its balcony
Piazza dei Cavalieri
A small town square with many historical buildings that hosted the political powers of the city in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- Palazzo della Carovana – the main Scuola Normale Superiore building, with an elaborate façade, by the important Italian Renaissance artist and architect Giorgio Vasari – who is also said to be the first historian of art
- Palazzo dell’Orologio (Clock Palace) – a 14th-century building that has replaced the Torre della Fame (tower of hunger), where the Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned and left to die of hunger with his sons, as cited in the Dante’s Divina Commedia
- Chiesa di Santo Stefano – designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century for the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano (Order of Chivalry of Saint Stephan), a chivalry order founded to fight piracy in 1561
- Other historical buildings include the Church of San Rocco, the Rectory, Palazzo Carovana and Palazzo dei Dodici
Explore Along the Riverbank
Lungarno Mediceo and Lungarno Pacinotti on the Northern side of the Arno river, Lungarno Galilei and Lungarno Gambacorti on the south side: these riverside streets give a distinctive character to Pisa, especially at night when the lamplight reflects on the Arno river.
Pisa would not be Pisa without the university. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows, and cultural events, and fill the central street of the city at night.
The University of Pisa has 60,000 students in a city of just 90,000 inhabitants. You’ll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the touristy Campo dei Miracoli.
The Walking Tour
A 3-km walking tour along the city walls is one of the newest attractions in the city. It is an occasion to see the city, including the leaning tower and Campo dei Miracoli, from an unusual angle.
They offer a great view over public and private buildings around the city, as well as many unexpected green areas. There are four entrances: one in Campo dei Miracoli, one next to a university campus near via Filippo Buonarroti, one in Piazza delle Gondole, and one in Piazza del Rosso, hidden behind a tiny gate.
Bring water and sunscreen on sunny days, since there is not the tiniest bit of shadow along the whole tour.
Marina di Pisa
When you have done the main attractions of Pisa, there is still one little gem left: Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea. It hosts a beach, not with sand, but with little marble pebbles.
The pebbles are smooth, and will not harm your feet, but since they are slightly unstable near the water, sea water-compatible footwear is recommended for walking along the beach and getting in or out of the water.
- Lucca – you can travel by train to this beautiful nearby city
- Florence – very easily reachable by train from Pisa Centrale
- Cinque Terre – you can take trains to La Spezia and Genova
- Volterra – you can travel by bus
- Calci – very easily reachable by bus. A charming medieval village nestled in the Pisan Mountains. The Charterhouse and the Museum of Natural History (home to the largest collection of whale bones in Europe) are among its attractions
How to Get Here
Pisa has the main train station called Pisa Centrale. Trains from Florence, Rome, and Lucca frequently stop at Pisa Centrale.
If seeing Leaning Tower is the only itinerary in your list, then the Psa S. Rossore station is much closer to the tower than the main station.
Those who arrive at the Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport, prefer bus services to the city which directly take you to Piazza del Miracoli. Keep in mind, though; the airport is not open 24/7.
Best Time To Visit
People from around the world visit Leaning Tower to see the wonderful architecture. But along with the architecture, the culture also breathes a beautiful charm.
Be a part of the Luminara festival ( Patron Saint’s day )as well as the Gioco del Ponte( Game of Bridge), held in the month of June.
Though it is sunny in June month, head first at 8 in the morning to get early entry.
The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city center is small and cozy, and enjoying the sight and the atmosphere.
Pisa is a safe city. You do not need to worry about your safety (except in some zones at night, such as the area surrounding the station).
However, you should take the obvious precautions (like, if you stay in a very cheap hotel, take your valuables with you) and watch out for pickpockets in the touristy areas.
As stated in the Buy section, avoid purchasing sunglasses, umbrellas, and other trinkets from illegal sellers. Definitely steer clear of counterfeit luxury goods. Upon arriving to Pisa, it is not uncommon for tourists to be swarmed by African vendors.
Some vendors can be pushy or even downright aggressive. Even saying “no thank you” can bring unwanted attention. It’s much better to ignore them entirely. Don’t worry about being rude.
Even though cheap prices are tempting, especially when traveling on a budget, the Italian police have fined tourists for buying from illegal sellers. These fines can be very steep (up to €1,000).
In front of the Tower, there are several legal vendors who have permits to sell items to tourists or anyone else. Be responsible and buy from them.
Legal vendors have stalls lined along the main road whereas illegal vendors keep merchandise in a sack, cardboard boxes, or (in the case of fake purses) on their arms.
December 28, 2017 10:49 pm
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