Pisa

Science, strolls along the river, nightlife: given the magnificent Leaning Tower, there is a lot left to do and see in Pisa.
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Pisa and the Leaning Tower is an inseparable pair, a bit like Paris and the Eiffel Tower. This is testified to by the fact that in the collective imagination the city’s most famous bell tower has no official name, it is simply ‘the Leaning Tower of Pisa’.

There are other leaning towers in the world, but no other is so beautiful and so iconic, risen to a symbolic monument of Italy on a par with other world-famous architectural wonders such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

Now stop making comparisons, it is not fair to Pisa. It is an extraordinary city that needs proper attention: true, the most famous attractions are one in front of the other and can all be visited in half a day, but Pisa is not only Piazza dei Miracoli and visiting it in a hurry is a real shame. Stop for a day inside, and maybe even a night. There are many good reasons, we will give you just a couple of them.

Pisa is science and knowledge: the birthplace of Galileo Galilei, it is the seat of the Normale di Pisa – one of the most prestigious universities in Italy – and the seat of the National Research Council.

It was one of the four Maritime Republics along with Amalfi, Genoa and Venice, and its maritime trade brought enormous wealth to the city, thanks to which magnificent palaces were built that we can still admire today. Even today, it is still a dynamic and modern city with a lively nightlife and many small clubs.

Have you ever thought that Pisa is also the sea? The seaside resort of Marina di Pisa is about ten kilometres from the centre. Keep this in mind: it is not bad to have a few hours on the beach after so many museums and monuments.

Things to do in Pisa

A visit to Pisa starts for everyone from Piazza dei Miracoli… and for many it ends here. Do not relegate Pisa to a hurried visit: there are many wonderful things to see. Here are the attractions not to be missed.

Piazza dei Miracoli

1Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italia

The Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, or Piazza dei Miracoli, is a truly incredible place where you can see and visit the main sights of the Tuscan city. In this huge square you can actually find 4 of Pisa’s main sights:

The beauty of the square is such that UNESCO included it in the World Heritage list in 1987.

Piazza dei Miracoli, with its characteristic rectangular shape and the huge lawn on which the four monuments stand, is not in the centre of Pisa, but rather outside it, to the north-west. Needless to say, despite this characteristic, it is by far the most visited area of the city, attracting millions of tourists every year.

Leaning tower of Pisa

2Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy

The city’s main attraction is the Tower of Pisa, or Leaning Tower, a true symbol of Pisa in the world. It is the bell tower of the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built from 1173 on a sagging ground that made it lean from the very beginning of its existence. Unexpectedly, it is precisely this fact that has made it unique in the world, so much so that it has been proposed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

Located in the heart of Pisa, in Piazza dei Miracoli, the Tower can also be visited from the inside against payment of an entrance fee. Climbing to the top, one can experience the incline first-hand, while at the same time admiring extraordinary views of the Duomo and the centre of Pisa.

Read moreBuy the ticket from 24,60 €

Pisa's Lungarni

3Ponte Solferino, 56125 Pisa PI, Italia

Piazza dei Miracoli is stormed by tourists on a daily basis; the Pisans, on the other hand, flock to the Lungarni.

As the name suggests, these are streets that run along the Arno River. Lined with elegant palazzi, many of which house shops, bars and clubs on the ground floor, they are popular meeting places both day and night.

They were once the home of wealthy families, which explains why there are so many beautiful palaces; unfortunately, many of these were rebuilt in the second half of the 19th century.

The lungarnos are not limited to the centre of Pisa but reach as far as the river’s outlet into the Tyrrhenian Sea and take different names in the various sections. The most famous is the Lungarno Mediceo, but the list is long and includes: Lungarno Pacinotti, Lungarno Simonelli, Lungarno Galilei, Lungarno Sidney Sonnino, Lungarno Buozzi, Lungarno Fibonacci and Lungarno San Ranieri.

Among the architectural gems that can be admired while strolling along the Lungarni are the Palazzo dei Medici, Palazzo Toscanelli, the Church of San Matteo in Soara and the Church of Santa Maria della Spina.

16 June is a special date to visit the lungarni: on this date the Luminara di San Ranieri is held, and the beauty of the area is enhanced by the natural light of hundreds of little flames.

Borgo Stretto

4Borgo Stretto, Pisa PI, Italia

The other nerve centre of Pisa’s city life is Borgo Stretto, simply called ‘Borgo’ by the Pisans: it is a characteristic porticoed street overlooked by elegant palazzi dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries and along which are numerous bars and cafés with outdoor tables.

The centre of the street is marked by Piazza delle Vettovaglie, where a market has been held for centuries; at the end of the arcades is Piazza del Pozzetto, known as Borgo Largo.

There are numerous buildings to admire during a walk in Borgo Stretto: the most beautiful are the Casino dei Nobili, the Church of San Nicola and the Church of San Michele degli Scalzi. Don’t miss the ‘little sisters’ of the Tower of Pisa, two leaning towers located near the churches just mentioned.

Piazza dei Cavalieri

5P.za dei Cavalieri, 56126 Pisa PI, Italia

Another square not to be missed in Pisa, second in importance and beauty after Piazza dei Miracoli, is Piazza dei Cavalieri, which was for centuries the centre of power; today it is considered the cultural heart of the city because the prestigious Scuola Normale di Pisa is located here.

It is so called because it was once the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen founded by Cosimo I de’ Medici. It was designed by Giorgio Vasari, one of the most important artists of the 16th century.

This square is also overlooked by magnificent monuments, including the Palazzo dell’Orologio, the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri and the Statue of Cosimo I.

Royal Palace

6Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 46, 56126 Pisa PI, Italia

Built by a wealthy Pisan family in 1159, the Palazzo Reale in Pisa was enlarged and embellished by the Medici in the second half of the 16th century. For centuries it was a noble residence, first of the Medici and later of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The current name, however, refers to the Savoys, kings of Italy, who used the palace after the unification of Italy.

The building is best known for being the place from which Galileo Galilei showed the Florentine nobles his brilliant invention: the telescope.

It is currently the seat of the National Museum of the Royal Palace, which displays the artistic masterpieces collected by the families living in the palace.

Arsenals

7Lungarno Ranieri Simonelli, 14, 56126 Pisa PI, Italia

Pisa’s maritime power will become evident if you visit the city’s two arsenals, both located on the Lungarni.

The Republican Arsenals are the oldest and were dedicated to the construction and repair of galleys, the typical fast boats of the Maritime Republic of Pisa.

The Medicean Arsenals were instead where galleys, large warships, were built; they remained active until the 20th century. Badly damaged during the Second World War, they were restored and are now used as an exhibition venue.

“Tuttomondo” by Keith Haring

8P.za V. Emanuele II, 18, 56125 Pisa PI, Italia

Pisa is not only ancient splendour: it still thrives on cultural ferment. Proof of this is the famous Tuttomondo mural, the last work created before his death by the famous American street artist Keith Haring.

It is a gigantic and very colourful mural covering a 180 square metre wall with no doors or windows in a very busy area: it is the back wall of the Convent of the Friars Servants of Mary, located behind a church overlooking the suburban bus station.

Created in the summer of 1989, the mural depicts 30 figures touching each other, fitted together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; each has a symbolic meaning.

Keith was invited to create the work by a young Tuscan art lover who had met him by chance in New York two years earlier; he used only colours spontaneously donated by a local company.

Botanical garden of Pisa

9Via Luca Ghini, 13, 56126 Pisa PI, Italia

Also worth a visit is the Botanical Garden of Pisa, the oldest university botanical garden in the world (not to be confused with the one in Padua, which is the oldest remaining in its original location).

Founded in 1543 on the banks of the Arno River, it was moved some fifty years later to its present location and gradually expanded. It is currently divided into seven areas, each of which houses one or more botanical collections: in total, the plants growing in the Botanical Garden of Pisa number about six thousand and come from all five continents.

There is also a Botanical Museum displaying documents and objects related to the teaching of Botany in the 18th century.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Where to stay in Pisa

Like Florence, Pisa is a very touristy city and offers a wide choice of hotels and B&Bs for all budgets, from hostels to luxury hotels; accommodation in Pisa is, however, on average cheaper than in the capital.

Keep in mind that it is very visited, so despite the large number of hotels, it is advisable to book in advance, especially if travelling in high season.

Tourists generally prefer to book a hotel around Piazza dei Miracoli to be within walking distance of the city’s main monuments. This is not necessarily the best area, especially the price should be considered: accommodation in Santa Maria, the area that includes the famous Leaning Tower, is the most expensive.

Considering that Pisa is a small city and it is easy to reach the main attractions in a short time, you can also evaluate hotels, B&Bs and flats in other areas.

The recommended area for those looking for cheap accommodation in Pisa is Sant’Antonio located south of the Arno; it is also convenient for those travelling without a car as it is very close to the central station.

If you want tranquillity, look for San Martino, a district far from the most crowded and noisy streets; a good compromise is San Francesco, a slightly quieter area than Santa Maria in the heart of the city’s cultural life, where you will find cinemas and theatres.

Those travelling by car can consider sleeping in a farmhouse or villa outside the centre to combine cultural visits and relaxation in the countryside. If instead you want a room with a sea view, look in Marina di Pisa.

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How to reach Pisa

After Florence, Pisa is the easiest city to reach in Tuscany. Like the regional capital, Pisa also has an airport served by numerous low-cost flights to/from many Italian cities.

Pisa’s Galileo Galilei International Airport is only 3 km from the city centre: given the short distance, a taxi ride is quite cheap and public transport, both buses and trains, also work very well; you can even get there on foot if you do not have heavy luggage.

You can easily reach Pisa by car from several directions thanks to the A11 Firenze-mare motorway, which runs through the Tuscan hinterland for about 80 km to the Pisan coast. You can enter the A11 from the A1 Milan-Naples, the longest motorway in Italy; the A11/12 slip road allows quick travel to/from Liguria.

Getting to Pisa by public transport is also very convenient and saves you the hassle of looking for parking in the centre. The railway station is located close to the centre and is served by frequent regional trains to Florence, from which you can quickly reach all the main locations in Tuscany and central-northern Italy.

The bus is not to be discarded: there are many bus connections to regional and national destinations.

Pisa Weather

What's the weather at Pisa? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Pisa for the next few days.

Saturday 20
15°
Sunday 21
15°
Monday 22
16°
Tuesday 23
14°
Wednesday 24
16°
Thursday 25
16°

Where is located Pisa

Pisa is a municipality in Tuscany and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located in the north-western part of Tuscany, about 80 km from Florence, 25 km from Livorno and 120 km from Siena.

Insights

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower is the main attraction in Pisa, and attracts thousands of tourists every day because of its beauty and uniqueness due to its inclination.
Read more
Where to stay in Pisa

Where to stay in Pisa

Here is a mini-guide on the best neighbourhoods and accommodation you can find in Pisa, the city famous for its Leaning Tower.
Pisa Airport

Pisa Airport

Pisa Airport is the main airport in Tuscany: a modern, easy to reach airport, served by numerous low-cost flights.
Flights to Pisa

Flights to Pisa

Province of Pisa: places to visit

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