I’ve been to Pisa 3 times, each time visiting via different route… firstly via a Cruise excursion, secondly via car on a day trip out and finally via train to show Mr G the sites! I have to admit I really enjoyed the train trip the most, possibly because the journey gave me time to get excited rather than look at maps along the way confused as we were in the car… The trains in Italy are very easy to follow, we just bought our tickets from Florence via Italiarail, and the full journey took 1 hour. It cost £7.50 for a one way, so about £15/18 euros return for a second class ticket.
TIP: Be sure to get to your train early, get on and grab a seat. They go fast if you haven’t reserved one! Also.. make sure you buy a ticket and scan it at the machines placed next to the train- it’s an offence to get on the train without scanning your ticket!
We got dropped off at Pisa train station which left us somewhere I had never seen before. Me only being used to the leaning tower. I didn’t really mind this as it gave me chance to explore a different part before heading to the tourist zone. Pisa really is beautiful, and extremely clean! I didn’t see litter anywhere on the floor, and just outside of the train station is a little park square that is covered in flowers. It’s a nice little walk through there to get onto the main roads. I was completely lost I’ll admit, I had no idea how to get to the leaning tower, and most people were hopping in taxis so I didn’t really know how far away it was. I did however, refuse to pay for a taxi and insisted on trekking around for 45 minutes until finally hopping on a local bus that took us there in about 5 minutes (can’t have been that far away!). This called for a quick pit stop and to be honest, a much needed beer!
Well as you can see from my face here, I was delighted to find they served 6 euro 1 litre pints! In the scorching weather, I recommend water.. but this was so welcomed after the wandering we’d been doing.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa/ La Torre di Pisa or really the Piazza dei Miracoli:
Built in 1173, ever since it began sliding in the unstable earth mound it was placed on. I believe after recent restoration work, it has since stopped shifting- now it’s cemented in some way. What we are left with is this delightful 180 feet tall tower to wander into (for a fee of 18 euros).
The tower is of course where the famous Galileo experiment took place (here’s your history lesson for the day): where he dropped two balls of different masses at the same height off the tower to demonstrate that their weight/mass made their time of decent change/or in this case didn’t- proving Aristotle’s theory of Gravity incorrect. A huge breakthrough in early science!
You’ll find many people will tell you going up the tower is not worth it as there isn’t too much to see. You mainly look onto the square with the Duomo in and see the tourists scattered below you. If you’re not that bothered it might be worth saving yourself the money and doing the more down to earth photos on the ground. May I add it will never get old seeing people with their arms outward next to the tour, I laugh every single time (I have definitely succumbed to this tradition).
What is nice about this area is that you can walk around the market and practice your haggling skills with the local stalls. If you’re a sucker for tourist gifts, then this is a great place for you! Hats, scarfs, statues, magnets… you name it they have it! With PISA printed all over it.
You can also visit inside the cathedral is you wish which I haven’t had chance to do yet (this will be on my next visit).
So what is nice about Pisa is although is it really dominated by this main tourist spot (like every city has), it also has some other treasures people often overlook. For example, did you know Pisa has a river flowing through the middle? On the 16th June each year (a special occasion for Pisa as their patron Saint S. Ranieri celebrates his day) all of the ’embankment’ is lit up with lights, candles and fireworks. Households place these candles in every window, door and crevice of their home is order to celebrate this Saint and this is called Luminara di S.Ranieri. On top of this idyllic setting you’ll find musicians playing everywhere around this area. I really hope to visit at this time next year.
Where to stay in Pisa:
Dei Cavalieri B&B:
A guesthouse with traditional rustic charm that will leave you feeling not only has your hotel been warm and hospitable but also a culture experience itself. It’s in a great location between the train station and the River, meaning you can walk to this fantastic festival I just discussed on foot. Double rooms with private en suites start at £40 per night– no I’m not kidding! What a steal! In this you get a traditional Italian breakfast. If you’re not too fussed about fancy add ons, or flat screen tvs then this is the place for you!
TIP: Be sure to book early, this B&B sells out very quickly!
Pisa houses one of the best places for homemade sandwiches- L’Ostellino. If you want something delicious, but easy on the wallet look no further! There are raving reviews on this place all over the internet and it will definitely be my lunch time spot next time I visit. Just look at these sandwiches!!!