How to spend one day in Pisa, Italy
Pisa is more than just a leaning tower. It may be a small city, but it has plenty of sights you can add to your Italy bucket list.
It is a beautiful city in the Tuscan region of Italy. Most travelers experience Pisa in one day as they fly into the airport and pass through to other parts of Italy (I believe that flights to Pisa can be cheaper than flying to Rome). When I visited, I’d traveled from Florence to Pisa by train and had one day before flying back to the Manchester via Pisa’s small, but humble, airport.
I stayed in a lovely (and reasonably priced) Airbnb where the host even picked me up in his car from the train station and dropped me off at the airport at the end of my trip. My generous host talked me through a map so I had a good idea of things to do in Pisa. However, even he admitted that you only need one day to see everything in Pisa. This may not be great if you are planning to spend a week in the city, so be mindful when you plan your travels. On the plus side, you can get around on foot as everywhere is within walking distance so it’s free to travel around – all you need to do is follow the River Arno.
So, what is there to do in Pisa?
The leaning tower of Pisa
If you’re in Pisa, you can’t miss the chance to see the leaning tower in real life.
Before I get into the history, let me answer the question you’re dying to know; ‘Why does the leaning tower of Pisa lean?!”
Apparently it was constructed on an uneven surface, which led to it’s unintentional tilt. In the 20th century, construction managed to structurally support the tower so the tilt didn’t increase.
It’s strange seeing something so iconic in front of you. Restoration work on the marble has continued since the 1990s and the tower shines brightly in the sunshine. Look out for the excited tourists everywhere, eager to get a photo of them propping the tower up.
The tower, which is a bell tower, is a medieval architecture, in Romanesque style thought to be designed by Bonanno Pisano, Gherardo di Gherardo, Giovanni Pisano and Giovanni di Simone.
I would recommend paying to climb the tower to check out the view of Pisa from the top. You can book tickets and find out more info here.
Square of Miracles
A short stroll away from the tower is the Piazza dei Miracoli, also called the Square of Miracles. The land is owned by the Catholic church and is home to four religious buildings: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the bell tower (leaning tower) and the Monumental Cemetery. It’s also the site of the New Hospital of the Holy Spirit, which includes the Sinopias Museum (Museo delle Sinopie), and the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo).
If you’re not religious, you can still appreciate the Square of Miracles in all its beauty. Plus, it demonstrates the medieval architecture Italy is famous for.
The River Arno
This river flows through Florence, Empoli, and Arezzo before passing Pisa and flowing into the ocean. Hundreds of years ago, it was a central passage for trade, bringing shipments of goods to Tuscany, and sometimes soldiers from rival regions. Nowadays it is a tranquil natural beauty which you can enjoy from almost anywhere in Pisa.
Here’s another beautiful marble square for you, Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri) which is the second main square in Pisa. It was once the political centre in medieval Pisa, and the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen. Currently, it’s the main building of the educational institute, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.
End your day in Pisa by dining at some of the local restaurants and enjoying a glass of Tuscan wine.
Would you go to Pisa? Let me know in the comments.