Located in Northern Tuscany, Pisa is a charming city full of rich history and medieval architecture. Although the city is best known for the Leaning Tower, Pisa has a multitude of wonderful focal points that should not be overlooked. To fully appreciate this great city and get the most out of your experience in Pisa, it’s important to educate yourself on its impressive historic past.
Pisa was established roughly 3,000 years ago on the Arno River, 10 kilometers from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Pisa became a thriving port and commercial center during the Roman era, which was a vital aspect to the city’s development. Many conflicts occurred throughout the region during the early years, however, protection from the Roman military allowed Pisa the opportunity to evolve.
During the 12th century, Pisa’s economic state and powerful military were largely responsible for revolutionizing Pisa into a full-scale city. The city ultimately began to decline after it was defeated by Genoa in 1284 during the Battle of Meloria. In 1509, it was conquered by the Florentines, which marked the end of Pisa’s independence.
Pisa became a part of Italy in 1871. After World War 2 wrought havoc on the city in 1944, Italy was quick to act and heavily invested in its restoration. Today, Pisa is more beautiful than ever and is a mecca for Italian culture and history.
How To Get Around
Transportation in a foreign country can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know how to access its different methods of transit. Not only is there a language barrier, there’s the risk of visiting town while most locals are rushing to or from work. When traveling abroad, it’s extremely crucial to plan ahead and make an effort to familiarize yourself with the territory prior to your departure. Fortunately, you’ve been provided with the necessary tools needed to get around this great city with ease.
The primary airport in the Tuscany region is the Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport, which is conveniently located five minutes away from Pisa’s city center. Although PSA is not a major airport, flying to and from the city is generally inexpensive and straightforward. Heading downtown from the airport is easily accessible by bus or taxi, and costs no more than a couple euros.
Carpooling is another convenient and popular method that is commonly utilized. By carpooling, you can split the cost of the fare with fellow travelers. Registering for this service should be done prior to your arrival, and can be accomplished by simply visiting passaggio.it/carpooling/Pisa.
Pisa’s main train station, Pisa Centrale, offers shuttles to and from Florence, Rome, and Genova. Trains run frequently throughout the day, many of which operate several times within the hour. Traveling to Pisa by train is a great way to see Italy’s countryside, and most major cities throughout the country are no more than a three hour journey. Economy tickets can be purchased for roughly 26 euros.
Getting Around Town
Since the majority of Pisa’s beautiful attractions are within a half hour walk, Pisa is one of the most convenient European cities to explore. If you decide to give your legs a rest after a long day of walking, you can easily travel anywhere in town by taking the city bus. Bus stops in Pisa are marked with the word “autobus,” making them very convenient to locate. Schedules for the bus can be found at various markets and hotel lobbies, and day passes for the autobus cost just over three euros.
Now that you’ve arrived in Pisa and know how to get around, let’s take a look at Pisa’s top tourist attractions.
- Torre Pendente, or the Leaning Tower, is without a doubt Pisa’s most reknown stop for tourists around the world. When construction began in 1173, workers quickly discovered that its foundation was gradually sinking into the marshy ground, resulting in the leaning effect that you see today. Over the years, the city of Pisa was concerned that the tower would eventually tip over due to its continuous subsidence. Torre Pendente, now stabilized, offers a magnificent view of the city and can be visited for 18 euros.
- Battistero is the largest baptistery in the world, and provides excellent views of the Leaning Tower. This historic attraction was erected in 1363 and is comprised of both Romanesque and gothic style architecture, making the Pisa Baptistery an important focal point for tourists.
- Duomo di Pisa is a breathtaking medieval cathedral with Romanesque and gothic sculptures scattered throughout its interior. Inside this stunning work of art, you’ll find the pulpit of Duomo, which is arguably Europe’s most beautiful sculpture.
- Santa Maria della Spina, constructed in 1230, was originally built to house a thorn that is allegedly a piece of the crown of Christ. This gorgeous gothic church is a must-see for anyone traveling to Pisa.
- Camposanto Monumentale, or Campo Santo, is a historic building and burial site filled with funerary monuments and brilliant sculptures.
- Piazza Garibaldi is a square located in in the center of Pisa with a buzzing restaurant and entertainment scene. Locals and tourists alike frequent the Piazza Garibaldi to enjoy street side eateries and overlook the beautiful architecture. This makes for an excellent attraction if you want to relax and soak up European culture after a long day of sightseeing.
Sightseeing is a great way to spend your day is Pisa, however, it’s just as important to get your hands dirty and engage in the different activities that this marvelous city has to offer. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of Pisa’s top recreations.
- Rent a vespa.
After a few days of walking, you might want to look into ways to relax and give your tired legs a break. Although the bus can get you around town, exploring one of Italy’s greatest cities on a vespa is an experience you’ll never forget.
- Take a day trip to Cinque Terre.
Located on the coast of the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre is a string of gorgeous towns that overlook the sea. This charming hillside village is slightly over an hour from Pisa and can be easily accessed by train.
- Explore the beauty of Tuscany.
Rent a car for the day and visit this lush hilly countryside. Tour famous vineyards and enjoy local Italian favorites for lunch while overlooking the gorgeous Tuscan scenery.
Eating out in Pisa
The key to eating in a foreign country is to figure out where the locals eat. Having dinner at a restaurant that overlooks the Tower of Pisa might be romantic, but that view comes with a hefty price and isn’t necessarily Italy’s most authentic cuisine. Such restaurants are typically geared toward tourists who are unsure of where to find great local food. Having said that, let’s go over some of the more popular local eateries in Pisa.
- Pizzeria Tavola Calda La Tana. This quaint little restaurant offers great dishes under 15 euros and is well patronized by locals of Pisa.
- Osteria di Culegna. Authentic Tuscan dishes at reasonable prices. Osteria di Culegna is a great family-oriented restaurant with friendly service. It is closed on Sunday.
- Il Montino is ideal for those looking for fast, tasty food on the go. Il Montino makes excellent pizza and focaccine at great prices.
- La Stanzina offers a warm atmosphere to enjoy Italy’s greatest dishes.
- La Mescita is an excellent option if you’re looking to indulge in delicious modern Italian cuisine. Although La Mescita is rather expensive, the food is outstanding.
- Ritz This cafe offers great coffee, espresso, and pastries that are perfect for breakfast in Pisa.
- La Bottega del Gelato is arguably the best gelato shoppe in Tuscany and the perfect ending to long day of eating and sightseeing.
Don’t stop now!
Now that you have a firm understanding of Pisa tourism, it’s time to put together an itinerary and explore this magical Italian city. The beauty of travel is the ability to experience new tastes, sounds, and sights. Throughout your stay, remember to make reference to this guide and add lifelong memories to your list of cultural experiences.