europe travel

5 Things You Must Do In Pisa

5/12/2016Jake Ryan

Although one of the most visited cities in the world, to most people, Pisa means only one thing; it’s Leaning Tower. Although an incredible sight to behold, there is so much more to this enchanting Italian city than it’s gravity defying tipsy tower.

To make sure you experience the best that this underrated gem has to offer,  Here is my list of the top 5 things you must do whilst in Pisa.

Possibly the most iconic sight in all of Italy, no trip to Pisa is complete without without feasting your eyes upon it’s gravity defying leaning tower. At 55m high and with a 5 degree tilt I knew that it leaned however I had no idea to what extent until I saw it with my own eyes. It truly is astounding. Built in 1173, it’s incredible to think that this feat of architectural genius (or major cock-up depending on how you view it) was only ever meant to be a bell tower to the Camposanto and not the global icon it has become today. The cornerstone of the aptly named Square of Miracles, for €18, you can take the 294 step, head-spinning climb to the top and take in the 360-degree sweeping views of all of Pisa. A word of warning: It is Italy’s most popular tourist attraction so book your tickets in advance to avoid the up-to two hour queues. For a more fun (and less crowded) Pisa photo opportunity, head to the back of the structure where instead of holding the tower up, you look like you’re pushing it over.
☻ Visit me: March-October 9am-7pm. November-February 9.30am-5pm. April-September 8.30am-8.30pm. 
£  I Cost: €18
✈ How to get to me: From Pisa’s Central Station take either Shuttle Bus A or Bus no3.

Although often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbour, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is arguably the most beautiful example of Roman Architecture in all of Pisa and well worth a visit. Set in the heart of the Square of Miracles, the Cathedral is an audacious amalgamation of Roman, Norman, Arabic and Byzantine artistic styles, originally being built in 1064 to rival Venice’s St. Marks Basilica which began works in the same year. Head on inside and you will be treated to an impressive composition of staggering marble columns holding up the beautiful golden and black marble vaulted ceiling. There are also some great examples of art and medieval relics including the magnificent pulpit from 1302, a Giovanni Pisano carved white marble chair and the Moorish inspired gigantic Bronze doors. If you make your way over to the far left corner you can also catch a glimpse of the mummified body of Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa. Even better, if you head over to the museum ticket office located in the square you can score yourself a free ticket and skip the queues by booking a pre-timed slot. Bonus!
☻ Visit me: Winter 10am-12.45pm and 3pm-4.45 weekdays. Spring, Summer and Autumn 8am-8pm. 
£  I Cost: €2 or free if you visit the museum ticket office and book a timed slot.
✈ How to get to me: From Pisa’s Central Station take either Shuttle Bus A or Bus no3.

The largest Baptistery in Italy, this magnificent marble mammoth is the first thing you see when entering the square. Standing slightly taller than the famed Tower of Pisa it also has a slight lean of around 0.6 degrees towards the Cathedral (I must admit I did have a brief panic when I thought my tripod was broken). The fact that it took over 200 years to build is reflected in it’s rather mismatched exterior with the plainer lower section being traditionally Roman (rounded arches) whereas the intricate upper half is distinctly Gothic (pointed arches). If you think the Baptistery is impressive on the outside wait until you head inside; it is only then that you can appreciate the grandeur of this octagonal structure. Although not as ornately decorated as the Cathedral, the sheer size of the space is simply overwhelming. A truly memorable experience.
☻ Visit me: November-February 10am-4.30pm. March-October 9am-6.30pm. Closed 1st January & 25th December.
£  I Cost: €5 or €2 concession
✈ How to get to me: From Pisa’s Central Station take either Shuttle Bus A or Bus no3.

Although to a lot of people, Pisa seems to start and end in Miracles Square, venture 15 minutes away and you will find yourself on the bustling and beautiful Arno River Promenade. Surrounded by a myriad of historic buildings, pubs, restaurants and bars; it’s a great area to spend an afternoon. Head on over to the historic quarter of Santa Maria where you will see fantastic examples of medieval architecture such as the Medici Palace, Church of Matteo and Toscanelli Palace. I’d also definitely recommend a stop at Babette which can be found at the east end of Ponte della Fortezza; a cafe-come-art gallery where you can sip a Latte whilst surrounded by art from local artists. If you are lucky enough to be here on the 16th June, you will be able to witness the streets illuminated by candlelight in honour of Saint Patron. Simply beautiful.
☻ Visit me: All year
£  I Cost: No cost
✈ How to get to me: From Pisa’s Central Station take Linea 2, Linea 4, Linea 13 or Linea 14 or 20 minute walk from Square of Miracles.

Almost completely unknown to the average tourist, the Orto Botanico di Pisa is the oldest university botanical garden in Europe and a tranquil and relaxing break from the throngs of people that normally crowd Pisa. Created in 1544 by Cosimo de Medici and now operated by the University of Pisa, the grounds include ponds, fountains, gardens as well as some of the best collections of exotic and endangered plant specimens to be found anywhere in the world. Only a 5 minute walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it definitely deserves a visit.
☻ Visit me: 8.30am-5pm weekdays. 8.30am-1pm Saturday. Closed Sunday.
£  I Cost: €2.50 or free for students, children and students.
✈ How to get to me: From Pisa’s Central Station take Linea 2, Linea 4, Linea 13 or Linea 14 or a 5 minute walk from Square of Miracles. 

Have you been to Pisa? Where are your favourite places to visit in Pisa? 
Drop me a comment below. 

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