One week in Tuscany, Italy just wasn’t enough. In fact, even though we had seen so much of this beautiful province and explored so many of it’s interesting towns, we still had only just scratched the surface. We hadn’t even made it to one of Tuscany’s most popular cities – Pisa.
Luckily, due to the fact that we had to drop our rental car off on a Sunday, the only location that was open was the office at Pisa Airport. So we made plans to make a quick stop in town to see the main sites before heading to our drop off point.
Since we were staying about 30km south of Florence, we didn’t get to Pisa until mid morning and we had to drop our car off by 12:30pm to avoid having to pay for another day’s rental. By the time we found a car park we were left with only two hours to explore the city. Of course, this was never going to be enough time so we decided that we would have to stick with the most popular site in the city – Piazza dei Miracoli (Piazza del Duomo).
As expected, this famous site was packed full of tourists, however the large areas of fenced off lawn provided the perfect opportunity to see the beautiful buildings unobstructed.
The piazza is absolutely beautiful, with paved areas and paths running around the green lawn and between the buildings. At the center of the square is the Duomo di Pisa (Pisa Cathedral) whose construction dates back to the 11th century.
Next to the Duomo is the circular Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St John). This magnificent building was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries and is the largest baptistery in Italy.
The biggest problem with visiting popular tourist sites like this is avoiding the hoards of tourist groups that like to push you out of the way and get in the way of all of your photos. This was particularly the case when we got to Pisa’s most famous site, the Campanile (bell tower) more commonly known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa).
The tower, constructed between the late 12th and 14th centuries, really is a magnificent site. Surrounding the tower, you will find countless tourists posing to get their photo taken while pretending to hold up the leaning tower. It’s actually quite amusing to watch. I imagine if you want to get some unobstructed photos and have a more peaceful experience, it would be best to visit early in the morning or perhaps at night.
The other main sites in the piazza are the Campo Santo- a 13th century walled cemetery, and the Spedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito - an old 13th century hospital which is now a museum. We didn’t have time to see either of these sites.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Pisa, but I was pleasantly surprised and would love to see what else the city has to offer.
Have you been to Pisa? Do you have any tips on what to see and do?