Pisa in Tuscany, Italy, is a relatively small town famous for its leaning tower. It’s an ideal destination for travelers with limited time, because one can see all its attractions in a day.
As most cities in Tuscany, Pisa is a charming colorful place, where one can enjoy the typical Mediterranean architecture while walking around, the lovely cuisine and the historic sights. For me, Pisa was a breath of fresh air after spending a couple of days in the overcrowded Florence. My family and I also visited the beautiful Bologna prior to Florence and Pisa.
We visited at the end of July, 2018. Even though many tourists come to Pisa, this city is a great escape from the busy Florence. The only somewhat crowded place is the Field of Miracles, where the leaning tower is, but it is nothing compared to the streets of Florence.
Going to Pisa by train
Pisa is easily reachable by train from Florence. The trip between the two cities lasts around 50 minutes and costs EUR 8-9 per passenger. Also, there are three or four trains per hour.
We took the train to Pisa from Florence Santa Maria Novella train station. This is the main train station of Florence. It is also the busiest and biggest one.
Plan some 10-15 minutes for buying tickets, if you don’t have them already. There are queues in front of the ticket machines all day long. Also, even if you are familiar with the train station, plan an additional 10 minutes for finding your platform and get on the train. The trains to Pisa usually begin their journey from platforms 1, 2 and 3, which are right next to the entrance.
You’ll need to have your ticket validated before you get to the platforms. It happens fast, but you can easily spend five minutes there, which can be crucial. Keep in mind that you can’t skip this part as the validation happens at the entrance gate for the platforms.
Once you arrive at Pisa Centrale train station, you can start your walk in this lovely city!
Explore Pisa on foot
We visited the city with our baby Anna, who was 9 and a half months old at the time. We walked from the main train station to the city center, which is nearby. Then we headed to the Field of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli) and enjoyed a good part of the city before we got there.
We actually didn’t use any means of transportation while in Pisa as there was no need. All the attractions are located within half an hour walk from each other.
Most people are not aware of this, but the world famous leaning tower is actually part of a big complex that also includes the Cathedral of Pisa, the Baptistry, the Monumental Cemetery, the Museo del Opera del Duomo and Museo delle Sinopie! It was given the very suitable name of the Field of Miracles and, indeed, the place is amazing. All the buildings are monumental and worth visiting. I recommend visiting at least the cathedral and the bapristry besides the tower.
You can climb the 284 steps to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa and enjoy the view, which looks really promising from the photos I found on the net. We didn’t do it, since we were traveling with our baby. We were not willing to put ourselves through climbing that much holding Anna. The tower is the most expensive treat and everyone wants to check it out, so you must reserve tickets in advance if you don’t want to wait hour or two to get in (EUR 17-25).
What to see in Pisa besides the leaning tower?
The leaning tower and the whole Field of Miracles are the absolute must-see of Pisa. Most organized excursions to the city include only this attraction and move on to the next destination. Still, one can enjoy a few more sites walking around in Pisa. I consider spending half a day or a day in Pisa enough, but if you have a long list of places that you want to see here, why not staying two days.
Coming in by train provides great opportunities to see several historic squares and churches, plus the Arno river. Close to the train station there is the so-called Tuttomondo, a mural by artist Keith Haring, who liked Pisa very much and made this piece of art as a gift to the city.
The University of Pisa is right at the Arno river. Walking north to the Field of Miracles, you’ll pass though the University’s botanical garden, which was founded in the 16th century and is the first university botanical garden in Europe. The Piazza dei Cavalieri is also nearby. It is a small square with lovely renaissance buildings.
We didn’t visit the Museo di San Matteo as it was a bit away from we route we chose in the city, but check it out if you have the time and let me know what you think about it.
Also, don’t miss to have a lunch here. It was some of the best food we had during our family trip to Italy. The cuisine in Italy is amazing everywhere, so take advantage of being here. We had a great lunch at a place called Osteria La Toscana (see picture below). We had to wait a little bit for our meals, but the waiter told us this in advance and we didn’t mind.
Are you going to Pisa? Which sights are you visiting? Let me know in the comments below.