Pisa – a bustling university town and the birthplace of Galileo Galilei is one of those small Medieval cities that will make you fall in love with Tuscany. Often overlooked in favour of the larger City of Florence, Pisa is an equally fascinating mix of history, art and culture.
If you wonder where to go and what to see beyond the famous Leaning Tower, look no further. Here are the most interesting highlights that will make you want to discover more of this unpretentious and enchanting city.
THE ANCIENT WALLS OF PISA
A best-kept secret among tourist attractions are the recently restored ancient Medieval walls of Pisa which stretch for 3 kilometres on a route around the city taking in views of the rooftops, secret gardens and many monuments not always obvious from street level! The whole experience will delight as you walk the walls which rise 11 metres above the ground offering magnificent views and a unique chance to experience the City from a different perspective.
Just imagine observing the magnificent ‘Square of Miracles’ with its grandiose Cathedral of Santa Maria, the dome-like Baptistery and the famous Leaning Tower with its hordes of selfie-taking visitors mingling below. Not only will you feel you have escaped the crowds but you will also feel like you are standing on the top of the world as you take in the spectacular panoramic view with some great photo opportunities!
That doesn’t mean to say that you should miss out on all the monuments in the ‘Square of Miracles’. Ninelling wrote some cool tips on how to get the most out of your visit to the ‘Piazza deiMiracoli’ as the square is known in Italian – so don’t forget to read them before you arrive.
Essential Info: The ancient walls
Address : Via Contessa Matilde 7, Pisa
Opening hours : 9am – 7pm
Entrance fee : 3 euros
THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
If Milan and Florence have Il Duomo, Pisa can surely compete with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. A gorgeous white-marble construction with interesting interior design, relief panels and statues is one of the most important churches in Italy.
The best way to experience its grandiosity is to let yourself be amazed by the beauty of its architectural highlights, the breath-taking pulpit by Giovanni Pisano supported by figures of Christ, the Archangel Michael, Hercules and the Four Evangelists, is an absolute religious and architectural must-see and so are the beautifully shimmering mosaics sitting high above the altar.
Address : Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Opening hours : 10am – 6pm
Free entrance but a ticket must be obtained at the ticket office.
THE BAPTISTERY OF PISA & CAMPOSANTO CEMETERY
This masterpiece of Gothic architecture is another place that should not be missed. This free-standing baptistery with four pillars and eight columns creates an amazing effect of light, serenity and solemnity.
It’s the largest baptistery in the World but best of all, it’s a fascinating architectural work that will take your breath away with its marble pulpit, detailed artwork and amazing panoramic views from the windows.
Don’t forget that the Baptistery of Pisa is often used as a concert hall due to its incredible acoustics, so if you want to spend a day enjoying both architecture and heavenly sounds, this is a place to be.
After admiring this place of serenity, head to the cemetery Camposanto that is located just across from the Baptistery. This interesting old cemetery with historical importance is a place of artistic beauty – Gothic architecture, glorious frescoes and a superb collection of historical relics. A must-see for every history and architecture enthusiast!
Address : Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell Assunta)
Opening hours : depending on the time of the year (April-September: 8am-8pm, October: 9am-7pm, November-February: 10am-5pm, March: 9am-6pm)
Entrance fee : 5 euros
DISCOVER THE RIVERBANKS – THE LUNGARNI OF PISA
Do you want to know more about the past and the present of Pisa? If yes, search no further than along the riverbanks of Pisa known as the Lungarni. Picturesque pastel- coloured Medieval tower houses line the banks of the river and tell much of its past illustrious guests.
It is along these banks which inspired some of the most famous English Romantic poets such as P.B. Shelley and Lord Byron who wrote the 6th verse of his epic poem ‘Don Juan’ from the Palazzo Lanfranchi.
A perfect place for Insta-worthy photos is to take a stroll along the river especially as the sun sets over the City – admire the pastel colours of the ancient palaces and historic buildings as they reflect into the waters below.
Close your eyes and let your imagination take you to the time when Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, lived here with her poet husband. Pisa was never so lovely and Hand Luggage Only explained very well why this city is always a good idea!
THE PALAZZO BLU
Every city has one of those rare places which makes you want to spend the whole day there and nowhere else. Palazzo Blu is one of those places. A unique art gallery located in a beautifully blue-painted palace along the River Arno is an unavoidable cultural centre for every art enthusiast. Showing temporary exhibitions and works of famous artists, past exhibitions have included the works of Salvador Dali, Amedeo Modigliani and Picasso. This gallery will fascinate you in every way. In addition to exceptional works of art, Palazzo Blu also offers a bookshop and a cosy café bar for true relaxation. An excellent guide to other attractions for art lovers and exploring tips can be found in World of Wanderlust. Can it be any better?
Address : LungarnoGambacorti 9, Pisa
Opening hours : Monday-Friday: 10am – 7pm, Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 8pm
Entrance fee : 3 euros
THE PIAZZA DELLE VETTOVAGLIE
When you get tired of visiting all those interesting historical buildings, monuments and galleries, come and take a break in one of the City’s oldest squares. Literally translated as ‘Supply Square’, this historic part of the City was built during the reign of the infamous Medici family. A vibrant local market selling fresh fruits and vegetables during the day becomes a lively hangout with great restaurants and bars when the night falls.
If you are wondering where and what to eat, Cultural Explorer gives some great suggestions. Surrounded by coffee shops, wine bars, bakeries and taverns, Piazza delleVettovaglie is an ideal place for people-watching and a must-visit if you want to understand the local daily life. Indiana Jo has a great guide for all the things you need to see and do, especially if you are staying only for a day.
THE BOTANIC GARDENS
The oldest botanical gardens in Italy are located near the Leaning Tower and offer a beautiful and serene oasis in the middle of the City. With its numerous rare and pharmaceutical plants, colourful flowers and interesting arboretum, these amazing gardens attract many visitors eager for peace and relaxation. If you are searching for a perfect place to absorb all the impressions from discovering the City of Pisa, this is the place to be.
Address : Via Luca Ghini 5, Pisa
Opening hours : 8.30am – 5.30pm (Monday-Friday), 8.30am – 9.00pm (Saturday)
Hours : depend on dates and time of the year Entrance fee: 2 euros
THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA
Last, but not least, is her majesty the Leaning Tower – Pisa’s most visited attraction and probably the most famous tower in the world, also known by the name La Torre Pendente.
As the angle of tilt increases by one millimetre per year, the predictions are that the tower could collapse but not before another 200 years! But why wait – put it on your bucket list soon! For all extra costs and money saving tips, Nomadic Matt provides a great guide – so don’t forget to check it out.
Address : Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Opening hours : depending on dates and time of the year (see the web page)
Entrance fee : 18 euros