Traveling is a way of life. Backpacking alone in Europe, I believe you will never have explored a country proper if you didn’t chill out the locals, commute using public transport, and eat where the locals go. Today, join me on my exploration journey in Tuscany, central Italy to the city of Pisa Italy.
Moreover, accommodations in Pisa is affordable and you can get a decent small hotel room for under $30-50 a night. Additionally, I stayed at the Helvetia Inn just a short 5 minute walk away from Pisa Tower with a nice street side café you can grab breakfast for under 3 Euros with a nice Latte.
More than a leaning tower
Furthermore, Pisa Italy is a small compact and chill town with lots of culture. A walk through the city center, checking out the small stores and cafes are all what you need to soaking in the city-town as a whole. Also, during my visit, there was a vintage car meet, particularly those by Fiat 500 owners.
Of course, the main attraction here is Pisa is the leaning tower. Moreover, an 18 Euro ticket purchased from the ticketing counter at the attraction grants you entry multiple points of interest in the compound. Also, here, there are the four notable attractions within the compound which we will be visiting.
Moreover, the compound comprises of a mix two museums, two Baptistery, Cathedrals and a Cemetery, namely the Baptistery and Duomo Cathedral (free), Opera del Duomo Museum, Sinopie Museum and the Camposanto Monumentale Cemetery.
You be given a ticket card to keep. A visit stamp strikes off each respective attraction you visited on your ticket upon entry. All attractions are open daily from 8am-8pm, hence, you can take your time to explore each attraction at your time, even over multiple days.
Heading up the (still leaning) Tower of Pisa
First off let’s head to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The views at the top offers a grand panoramic view of the city of Pisa. Thankfully, the Pisa, Italy city does not have many tall buildings. One probably due to building conversation codes. This allows for largely unobstructed views of the city center below.
In addition, the tower itself is not that tall, so it’s not observatory-style tall. Climbing up the tower is quite an interesting but otherwise mildly disorienting affair. A circular spiral staircase runs along the outer perimeter of the tower circling your way up. Also, due to the tower lean, you will notice the stair gradient alternate between flat and a stair climb it is quite an interesting experience.
At the top, a row of three big bells sits on the perimeter at the top of the tower. Interestingly, the tower has a clear central core which you can see the top from bottom and vice versa. At the top center sits an opening encased in a clear plastic cover allowing you to safely see through all the way the other way to the bottom.
Also, the top of the tower does not have any perimeter fencing designed when it was built. Fencing is added of course to prevent tourists from falling off the tower when taking selfies.
Notably, the leaning tower of Pisa was closed off for a few years before my visit. It was to stabilize the soil and the structure which was increasing in its lean over the years and at risk of toppling over. The soil stabilization works was done with the foundation sealed off while maintaining the iconic 5.5 degrees lean.
Pisa Italy Duomo Cathedral and Camposanto Monumentale
Additionally, the Camposanto Monumentale Cemetery is a vast compound, albeit a quiet one too. It allows you to explore the various stone sculptures and courtyards within at your own time.
Also, the Opera del Duomo Museum and Sinopie Museum located here covers the history and lifestyles of the city’s past, mostly through displays of artifacts and historical records of the city.
The Duomo Cathedral or also known as the Pisa Cathedral is one highlight mianly for it’s vast size and notable example of Romanesque architecture. It was consecrated on September 1118 and is still a current place of Catholic worship.
Baptistery of St. John
Moreover, the Baptistery beside it (Baptistery of St. John) is the largest baptistery in Italy, standing 55m high and a 35m diameter dome. It has a rather distinctive look cleanly in the large green field.
Interestingly, the Marble Baptistery itself leans 0.6 degrees towards the tower, due to the unstable soil, but is hardly noticeable.
On no the tower is falling!
Also, it is not uncommon to see many tourists posing for pictures here on the Piazza dei Miracoli and Piazza del Duomo. It is an open courtyard offering great photo opportunities to frame a shot with the tower. This plaza is home to lots of souvenirs stores. Souvenirs in Pisa are also considerably cheaper and the people noticeable friendlier than say the French in Paris.
Additionally, if you are planning to spend about 3 days in Pisa, it is advisable to split your visit over a least 2 days. If you are a museum fan, these museums are good for an entire day. Also if you plan to check out every exhibit in detail. it be good to ascend the tower during sunny weather where it is best to catch the views from the top.
Henceforth, do look into the weather forecast for fair days when planning your visit up the leaning tower, as it could be closed in inclement weather. The museums are a good place to spend to time on bad weather days.
Pisa Botanical gardens
Additionally, there are also several points of interest in Pisa besides the leaning tower. They are not must-visits, but some attractions you can check out if you have a day spare. Also, if you desire some greenery in the city, Pisa botanical gardens (Orto botanico di Pisa) is your only refuge. It is not the prettiest or the best well-kept of botanical gardens, like the ones we previously visited in San Francisco or Singapore.
Moreover, it opens from 8:30 am- 5:30 pm daily and is home to 9 sections comprising of a couple of water features, albeit a fountain, a greenhouse housing a couple of tropical plants and a bamboo forest, with a mix of open air and green, ponds. Also, I was appreciative of small mini green fields in the gardens. It is a good escape. From the urban-packed cobbler streets of Pisa.
A chill affordable city
Wrapping up, on other points of interest is Pisa Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri). It is an open renaissance square with a statue of Cosimo I de Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Also, here, you can find several restaurants, bars and quite a buzzing nightlife to grab an affordable dinner at the stores along Borgo Stretto district.
Moreover, a walk along the River Arno (which cuts through the city), you can check out points of interests such as the Santa Maria della Spina Church and the Palazzo Blu (blue art house).
Otherwise, that is pretty much everything here in Pisa Italy. I particularly enjoyed the slow pace and tranquility of the city, especially away from the Leaning tower area.
All in all, Pisa Italy is a simple city home to the iconic tower as its central and core attraction. It’s affordable living cost and accommodation also makes the city a great space to stop. Though let down by lack of green spaces and alternate attractions. Maybe that’s where a visit to the nearby French Riveria might interest you on the next part of my journey.