By Erin Mauger, Contributory Writer
If you’re looking to schedule some day trips into your Roman holiday, consider visiting the beautiful city of Pisa. Pisa is located in Tuscany, a region influential in terms of culture and the arts and known for its natural charms. This once powerful city was an important maritime republic and is also the birthplace of Galileo, the famous physicist and astronomer.
To explore this destination in the flesh, you can easily travel into Pisa by train from Florence, or Siena if you’re coming from the other direction. Pisa Centrale is the main railway station in the city. It’s equipped with all the amenities, and it’s here where you may want to buy a map if you haven’t already. Buses are readily available for your use, and, if you want to head straight to the main sights, locate the one that goes to the Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles.
Having the Leaning of Tower of Pisa on the itinerary is probably a given. Go ahead; go there first if you want to cut straight to the chase. This famous freestanding bell tower began construction around 1174, the design of which has been attributed to Bonanno Pisaro. Once the structure was about half its height it began to sink into the ground, giving it its iconic lean. Work on the tower was abandoned for almost a century before construction resumed.
Tickets are 15€ or slightly more if you book them in advance. It’s probably worth the extra convenience fee, particularly if you go during the high tourist season between May and September. Climb the 300 stairs to the top and check out the view, surveying the remainder of the architectural wonders in the square.
The Cathedral is another attraction that seems worth giving a bit of a look. The admission price is only a couple of euros so it’s not much of a strain on the pocket. Also known as the Duomo di Pisa, the Cathedral was built in Romanesque style and set the aesthetic standard for the other buildings in the Piazza dei Miracoli. Take time to note the intricate details on the outside such as the bronze doors decorated with biblical scenes or the interior with its mosaics and gilded ceiling. There was a lot more artwork displayed inside the Cathedral but much of it burned in a fire in the 16th century.
When you want a break from all the sightseeing, there are a number of restaurants and eateries to choose from. Keep it simple by going to places like Gusto Giusto, about a 20-minute walk from the square, and enjoy a sandwich on a fresh baguette. There’s also Il Campano, which has a more extensive menu. Do a little research beforehand or decide according to your whims (or your budget!). When it comes to shopping, you can probably skip it and save the rest for other activities.
Go back to the Piazza to see other things you may have missed like the Baptistery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. You can also choose to walk down the Arno River to get another vantage point of the city.
These suggestions are only a place to start. It’s possible to get a full-day audio walking tour, which will give you a different feel for your surroundings. If you’re more on the spontaneous side, put away the map and just wander, see what the locals are doing, or observe closely the things that make you curious. When your thirst has been satisfied and you’re done seeing Pisa, flag a taxi back to the Pisa Centrale and get ready for the next stop on your adventure!