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Pisa, Italy

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Pisa, Italy

Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, that is best known for its world famous

Leaning Tower

. But the Tower isn't the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city. The half-hour walk from the

Campo dei Miracoli

to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city center is very small, and enjoy the sight and the atmosphere.

Understand

Pisa would not be Pisa without the University. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows,... Read more

Pisa, Italy

Destination:
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, that is best known for its world famous

Leaning Tower

. But the Tower isn't the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city. The half-hour walk from the

Campo dei Miracoli

to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city center is very small, and enjoy the sight and the atmosphere.

Understand

Pisa would not be Pisa without the University. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows, and cultural events, and fill the central street of the city at night. The University of Pisa has 60,000 students in a city of 90,000 inhabitants (200,000 in the metropolitan area). You'll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the touristy Campo dei Miracoli.

Pisa experiences a borderline humid subtropical and Mediterranean climate since only a single month receives less than 40 millimeters (1.6 in). The city is characterized by mild winters and very warm summers. This transitional climate keeps Pisa from enjoying a summer devoid of rain, typical of Central and Southern Italy, as the summer (the driest season) experiences occasional rainshowers. Rainfall peaks in the autumn months.


Source:
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Pisa, Italy: Port Information


You can get to Pisa from the port of La Spezia or Livorno.

Get around Pisa, Italy


There are regular buses around town, including from the train station to the Field of Miracles. Attractions are within a half hour walk of each other. Local bus tickets are available at tobacco shops; there are also vending machines both at the station and the airport.

Many car rental agencies are at the airport. While you will not need a car in the city itself, it can be a good choice if you want to go around Tuscany from Pisa. To get to the car rental offices take the shuttle bus in front of the airport's arrival hall to the right, close to the city bus stop.

 

What to see in Pisa, Italy


See

Monuments and museums

Pisa is divided into 4 historical quarters. There is much more than the Leaning Tower in the city and several different walking itineraries are available.

  • The Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles is to the north of central Pisa. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains the city's most famous sights:
    • Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), Piazza Arcivescovado 1, ☎ +39 050 835011/12FORMAT, e-mail: info@opapisa.it. Mon-Sun 09:00-20:00. The structure was originally conceived as the cathedral's bell tower. Construction began in 1173 and the tower started leaning soon afterward due to subsidence of the ground underneath its base. A project to keep the tower from leaning more and tipping over finally reached a successful conclusion in 2001, and the tower is again open to those wishing to climb it. Climbing the tower requires a reservation-based ticket for €18. Tickets can be bought for the tower on the day, for a specific entry time. This could be 45 min-2 hr after the purchase time, but there is a lot to see while you wait. It is better if you buy tickets online for €18 well in advance (up to 20 days). The tickets are non-exchangeable, effectively non-refundable, and only good for the tower, so they're a bit of a risk to purchase in advance. Make the effort to climb, though, and you'll be rewarded by the view. Curiosity: the famous Pisa leaning tower is not the only one, due of the marshy land that they are built on, there are other 2 towers in Pisa: the Bell Tower of San Nicola Church, near the banks of Arno and the Bell Tower of San Michele of Scalzi Church. For safety reasons, children who will not have turned 8 by the end of this year are not permitted to enter. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. ID may be requested to certify the age. 18€.
    • Duomo di Pisa. A splendid cathedral, containing artwork by Giambologna, Della Robbia, and other major artists. Fine Romanesque style with double aisles and a cupola, a huge apse mosaic partly by Cimabue, and a fine pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in late Gothic/early Renaissance style. Free (a maximum of two coupons per person).
    • Battistero (Baptistry). Large round Romanesque dome with many sculptured decorations and a fine view up top; climb this if you want a great view with the Leaning Tower visible in your photos. Arabic-style pavement, pulpit by Nicola Pisano (father of Giovanni), and fine octagonal font. At regular intervals, the ticket-checker-guard at the entrance comes into the baptistery and gives an audio-treat of echo-effect. The guard shouts out a few sounds which when echoed sound like pure beautiful music. You can also cast your inhibitions to the wind, stand by the wall, and sing long notes that turn into chords by yourself, as the echoes go round and round the dome of the building. 
    • Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). A huge cemetery building with lots of interesting art, including a collection of ancient Roman sarcophagi and splendid medieval frescoes by the "Master of the Triumph of Death". There is also a 19th-century statue of the famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, a native of the city. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Sinopie Museum. Free entrance to the cemetery on 1 and 2 Nov.
    • Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Has sculptures and paintings formerly preserved in the Cathedral and the cemetery. Some of the more unusual are bronze griffins from Syria captured by the Crusaders. You can also capture nice photos from the Tower and the Duomo from its balcony.
    • Museo delle Sinopie. Skipped over by many visitors, this museum is a treat for art lovers. After WWII many of the surviving murals and pieces of murals from Pisa's Campo Santo were detached from the walls to try to preserve them. It was unexpectedly discovered that the artist sketches underneath survived. These were moved to this museum. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery.
  • Piazza dei Cavalieri

    . A small town square with many historical buildings that hosted the political powers of the city in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but most of them are not accessible to tourists, as they are now property of the University of Pisa or Scuola Normale Superiore (a prestigious elitary school).
    • Palazzo della Carovana. The main Scuola Normale Superiore building, with an elaborate façade, by the important Italian Renaissance artist and architect Giorgio Vasari - who is also said to be the first historian of art.
    • Palazzo dell'Orologio (Clock Palace). A XIV century building that has replaced the Torre della Fame (tower of hunger), where the Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned and left to die of hunger with his sons, as cited in the Dante's Divina Commedia.
    • Chiesa di Santo Stefano. Designed by Giorgio Vasari in the XVI century for the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano (Order of Chivalry of Saint Stephan), a chivalry order founded to fight piracy in 1561.
    • Other historical buildings include the Church of San Rocco, the Rectory, Palazzo Carovana and Palazzo dei Dodici.
  • Lungarno Mediceo and Lungarno Pacinotti on the north side of Arno river, Lungarno Galilei and Lungarno Gambacorti on the south side: these riverside streets give a distinctive character to Pisa, especially at night when the lamplight reflects on the Arno river. Along the Lungarni stands interesting places like:
    • Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Piazza San Matteo, 1, lungarno Mediceo, ☎ +39 50 541865. This is a fantastic history and art museum, which houses almost all of the original artwork from all the churches in and around Pisa. Although fairly small, it is one of the biggest for Tuscan Renaissance art, hosted in the rooms of the San Matteo monastery. A gem overlooked by most tourists.
    • Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza XX Settembre. Two opposing town square, one at each end of Ponte di Mezzo (middle bridge), and are considered the center of the city. From Piazza Garibaldi starts Borgo Stretto, an old street with lots of shops that, together with Corso Italia starting in the opposite direction from Piazza XX Settembre, create a pedestrian area (interrupted only by the bridge) that is considered the center of the city. In Piazza XX Settembre you can find the Logge dei Banchi, a building created to host textile market in 1600, and the town hall, in the Palazzo del Comune.
    • Santo Sepolcro (on Lungarno Galilei). A Romanesque octagonal church with conical spire by Diotisalvi, who also built the baptistry - a Templar church, striking and forceful. Usually is not open to the public.
    • Ussero Café founded on 1775, lungarno Pacinotti 27. A monument to Italian culture in the 1400's Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. In 1839, it was a seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
    • Santa Maria della Spina (on Lungarno Gambacorti). A very small Gothic church built in 1230 to house a thorn from Jesus's crown, it's considered one of the best expressions of Italian Gothic. It is so small that in 1800, it was moved from the Arno riverbank to a place some metres higher, one stone at time, to protect it from flooding. It's usually not open to the public.
    • Giardino Scotto (on Lungarno Fibonacci at the end of Lungarno Galilei). A fortress converted to a public park which opens in summer for open air cinema, music shows, and other events.
    • La Cittadella (at the end of Lungarno Simonelli). A fortress built to guard the access by the river Arno and the shipyard in the middle age, when the sea was closer to the city.
  • University botanical garden (Orto botanico), via Luca Ghini 5. The first university botanical garden of Europe, created by the will of Cosimo de' Medici in 1544. It is open weekday mornings and is free to the public.
  • Tuttomondo. Keith Haring mural. Keith Haring visited Pisa and fell in love with the town, so he decided to paint this amazing mural as a gift to Pisa. Though extremely large, it is easy to miss so look out for it; it is located between via Giuseppe Mazzini and via Massimo D'Azeglio just off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
  • Fine Romanesque churches, San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, San Michele in Borgo, San Paolo with a sculpture gallery inside, Sant'Andrea - not all are open every day; double-check the hours if you want to visit.

When you have done the main attractions of Pisa, there is still one little gem left: Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa on the Mediterranean sea. It hosts a beach, not with sand, but with little marble pebbles. The pebbles are smooth, and will not harm your feet, but since they are slightly unstable near the water, sea water compatible footwear is recommended for walking along the beach and getting in or out of the water.

What to do in Pisa, Italy


Do

  • Take a photo of yourself holding, leaning against, or "anthropologically appropriating" the leaning tower of Pisa.

Annual Events

  • On June 16th Pisa holds the Luminara festival, held for the patron saint's day (San Ranieri). At sunset, all the lights along the Arno are dimmed and more than 10,000 candles are lit, which makes for some spectacular sights from the Ponte di Mezzo. Various activities are organized in the streets and the night ends with big fireworks.
  • Another summer attraction is the Gioco del Ponte (Game of Bridge), a historical manifestation held yearly on the last Sunday of June, in which the two sides of the city (Tramontana and Mezzogiorno, geographically split by the Arno river) participate in a historical procession, with 709 walk-ons, then challenge each other to a physical match in which their teams, each composed of 20 members, try to conquer the "Ponte di Mezzo" (the main bridge in Pisa) by pushing a trolley in order to force the rival team off the bridge.

Nightlife

For nightlife, there aren't many clubs or live music places in Pisa: the usual night in Pisa is having a dinner of pizza or a cheap kebab, having a beer in Borgo Stretto, or Piazza delle Vettovaglie or a pub in the surrounding areas, and having a walk in Piazza Garibaldi and Lungarni, where the "spallette" (the low brick walls around the river) are full of students.

Some alternative clubs (hard rock, alternative, funky) in the center are:

  • Ex-Wide
  • Borderline

Italians really loves to sing. You can find many talented local singers at the Millie Bar. The fun energetic lounge is located in the city center not far from Piazza Garibaldi. Every Tuesday night is Karaoke Night. Who knew the Italians have a deep passion for singing.

  • Milliebar - via palestro, 39

Less alternative clubs are found at the seaside, about 8 km from Pisa, in Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia. For instance

  • Pappafico (a disco with house music and the like)
  • PIA (a disco/bar on the sea)
  • Sunset (mainly an aperitiv/happy hour/chill-out location on the sea)

Spas

  • Casciana Terme. the thermal water used at Casciana Terme since ancient times, has in recent years seen its applications extended to modern rehabilitation therapies, cardiovascular and respiratory treatment, in the improvement of the digestive functions and their treatment, because its natural, relaxing action enables patients to regain their functional equilibrium and the enjoyment of pleasures they had lost.
  • San Giuliano Terme. Water with beneficial effects and calciferous magnesic sulfate water, naturally rich in vital curative elements, gush forth at the foot of Mount San Giuliano at the Spa out of different springs and are gathered in two groups called the "East Baths" (40°C temperature) and the "West Baths" (38°C temperature).

What to eat and drink in Pisa, Italy


Eat

As a general rule, try not to eat near the Leaning Tower where prices are high and quality low. Head instead to the central area (5-10 minutes walking from Piazza dei Miracoli): you can find very good, cheap restaurants there. For example, there are excellent, friendly and reasonably priced cafeterias in the busy small vegetable market, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Also Via San Martino, close to the south bank of the river, offers some places with good quality and low price.

This said, near the Leaning Tower, in via Roma, there's a good Indian Restaurant, with a beautiful atmosphere and really good, though not always cheap, dishes. In Piazza dei Miracoli, there's a quite good restaurant-pizzeria, cheap enough, the Kinzica.

In any case, don't miss Salza, in Borgo Stretto, with high prices but absolutely gorgeous chocolate, sweets, and pastries of all kinds. 

If you have access to transport, an alternative to eating in Pisa is to take the relatively short drive to Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea some 15 km from central Pisa. Just follow the SS224 road west on the south side of River Arno and you are there in 20 minutes. There are several restaurants by the seafront, and having your dinner here, outside and when the sun sets in the west, is a rewarding experience. Parking and tables may be out if you arrive late, so check the opening hours (many restaurants do not open until around 19.00) and be there early. Even better, spend an hour or two just walking along the beach before the restaurants open. Try Roca de Mar.

Finally, there's a good pizzeria near the Youth Hostel, too, on the road that leads to the Leclerc, on the left then you must go into the tunnel.

Here are some good spots for eating:

  • Gelateria Naturale Artigianale De' Coltelli, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, ☎ +39 34 54811903. Closed in the winter. Ice cream made using quality ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. €2 for two scoops.
  • La Lupa Ghiotta, Viale francesco bonaini, 113 (from the station walk towards Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, than turn right in Viale Francesco Bonaini), ☎ +39 50 21018. Has very good food in a cozy environment.
  • La Mescita, Via Cavalca, very close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. An expensive but very good choice. They serve both traditional and more sophisticated food.
  • Il Montino, Via del Monte. Great place to get fine pizza and excellent focaccine. You can eat there or grab your food to go.
  • NamasteIndia Ristorante (NamasteIndia Ristorante Indiano), Via S.Bernardo, 34 (Crossing Street to Corso Italia), ☎ 039-333-7546356NOCC. 13:00-01:00. Authentic typical Indian food. 5-min walk from railway station.
  • Numero 11, 47-49, Via San Martino. Generous portions in an informal setting.
  • Osteria Bernardo, piazza San Paolo all'Orto,1, ☎ +39 050575216, e-mail: info@osteriabernardo.it. 19.30-24.00. This fine restaurant overlooks the Piazza San Paolo Orto and has a sober and comfortable ambiance.
  • Osteria dei Cavalieri, Via San Frediano. close to Piazza dei Cavalieri. Quite expensive but very good. You can find typical and traditional recipes from Tuscany.
  • Osteria di Culegna, Via Mercanti (on the main road). Good food and research of the Tuscan typical recipes, nice and smiley service. Closed on Sunday.
  • Pizzeria Tavola Calda La Tana, V. San Frediano. 12 noon-3 PM and 7 PM onwards. This is a restaurant frequented by locals. The food is good and reasonably priced compared to other restaurants in Pisa. Staff welcome all the locals and pamper the tourists.
  • Pizzeria L'Arancio, Via l'Arancio 1, ☎ 039 0505 007 29NOCC, e-mail: info@aranciopisa.it. 12.00 - 15.30, 19.00 - 22.00, closed on Sunday. Affordable pizzeria which also serves good foccacia. Relaxed student-like atmosphere.
  • Pizzeria Il Fornaccio, Via Luigi Bianchi, 33 (Just outside the city walls.). A pizzeria just outside the walls. Pizza is very good and the appetizers (antipasti) possibly even better. Very affordable. Authentic informal Italian pizzeria atmosphere. The place is not very big and popular with locals late in the evening, so it is best to arrive early (before 8 PM) or reserve a table, especially during weekends.
  • La Reginella, Via di Gello at via Filzi. 15 min walk from the tower or take bus number 2. Great pizza, and the guy who cooks it is originally from Napoli, ask for Vincenzino.
  • La Stanzina, Via Calvalca close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Many of the recipes come from southern Italy.
  • Trattoria da Cucciolo, Vicolo Rosselmini 9. The food is good and served in a tasteful quasi-homely ambiance. The staff is friendly and helpful. €8-15.
  • Millibar Ristorante Pisa, Via palestro 39, ☎ +39 3881551010, e-mail: info@millibar.eu. 12.00-15.00 19.00-23.00. A new modern restaurant & cocktail bar. Millibar Ristorante Pisa is a great restaurant €15.
  • Pizzeria Pisa Le Tre Forchette, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), ☎ +390506160891, e-mail: info@treforchette.it. 19.00-00.000. In the old town, within the walls of the Church of St. Peter ( 1072 AD). 10€.

Drink

During summer nights, everybody stays around the banks of the rivers, sipping drinks bought from the several bars in the area. A few very good wine bars are also available for colder, winter nights.

  • Millibar Pub Pisa, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), ☎ +39 335 14 85 555. 18;00-02:00. Millibar Pub Pisa has long been a popular meeting point for students and tourists. Good drinks, good music, good food and a friendly atmosphere. For sports fans there is a giant screen and projector, three 46" plasma TVs, a private room to enjoy the game in full comfort a stadium-like sound system. MC Alessio for a night of Karaoke on Tuesdays
  • Orzobruno, Via Case Dipinte 6/8 (A bit tricky to find but worth it), ☎ +39 50 578802. Sun-Thu 7PM-1AM, Fri-Sat 7PM-2AM. Artisan organic beer and organic food.
  • Pisa Caffè dell'Ussero, Lungarno Pacinotti, 27. It is a monument to Italian culture in the 1400s Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. Its walls are covered with glorious mementos from its most famous visitors of the Risorgimento when they were students: Carlo Goldoni, Gacomo Casanova, Vittorio Alfieri, Filippo Mazzei, John Ruskin, Domenico Guerrazzi, Giuseppe Giusti, Renato Fucini, Giosuè Carducci, Cesare Abba, Giuseppe Montanelli. In 1839, it was seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
  • Sottobosco, Piazza San Paolo all'Orto (Starting in Borgo Stretto, the main shopping street North of the river, walk North and turn right down via Sant'Orsola then left at via degli Orafi. Take the next right and walk straight). Closed Mondays. Bar which also sells books. Has an upright piano and Jazz nights.
  • Vineria di Piazza, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Serves great wine and very few dishes. You can find very traditional food here.

Coffee

  • Babette (food and art café), Lungarno Mediceo 15, ☎ +39 50 9913302/3FORMAT. This nice café is on Lungarno Mediceo, really close to the center of the city. The place has a strong personality; you can tell it's owned by art and culture lovers. You can pick up a book and read while having a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate or even have a meal. Sometimes concerts take place in this café, and there are also evenings dedicated to special themes.
  • Ritz, Borgo Stretto. Good coffee, fine service, and the best dressed baristas. They also sell French wine and Champagne.

Shopping in Pisa, Italy


Buy

The central shopping area is centered around the Corso Italia, between the railway station and the Ponte di Mezzo (the central bridge) and also in the Via Borgo Stretto, north of the bridge. However, many specialized shops are sprinkled around the city.

The area around the leaning tower is geared toward tourists: There are lots of small souvenir kiosks, stands and "flying merchants", selling all kinds of souvenirs from small statues to hour-glasses - of course, the general motif is the leaning tower.

Beware: it is an offense to buy from one of the "flying merchant" that sell fake replicas. They are very persuasive and if you buy anything you must haggle – they'll drop their prices significantly.

Every two weeks there is a bazaar with quite cheap books, records and old household items.

And don't forget to try some of Pisa's famous biscotti (biscuits or cookies). Bakeries all through town will sell multiple varieties, at a low price.

For the budget option, if coming from the Airport, there is a Coop supermarket on the left, on Via Pasquale Pardi.

Safety in Pisa, Italy


Pisa is a safe city. You do not need to worry about your safety (except in some zones at night, such as the area surrounding the station). However, you should take the obvious precautions (like, if you stay in a very cheap hotel, take your valuables with you) and watch out for pickpockets in the touristy areas.

As stated in the Buy section, avoid purchasing sunglasses, umbrellas, and other trinkets from illegal sellers. Definitely steer clear of counterfeit luxury goods. Upon arriving in Pisa, it is not uncommon for tourists to be swarmed by African vendors. Some vendors can be pushy or even downright aggressive. Even saying "no thank you" can bring unwanted attention. It's much better to ignore them entirely. Don't worry about being rude.

Even though cheap prices are tempting, especially when traveling on a budget, the Italian police have fined tourists for buying from illegal sellers. These fines can be very steep (up to €1,000). In front of the Tower, there are several legal vendors who have permits to sell items to tourists or anyone else. Be responsible and buy from them. Legal vendors have stalls lined along the main road whereas illegal vendors keep merchandise in a sack, cardboard boxes, or (in the case of fake purses) on their arms.

Language spoken in Pisa, Italy


Italian is the official language. English is widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

5:28 am
December 15, 2018
Europe/Rome

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