Leaning and Sight-Seeing: The Perfect Day Trip to Pisa

Johnnie Sharp

Well, you’ve made the decision to visit Pisa. The only problem is you only have one day to go. What do you see with the limited amount of time? Here are a few tips on how to get there, what to see, and how to make this day one to remember!

How to Get There:

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Stazione Pisa Centrale

Pisa is located in the Tuscany region in the center of Italy. If you are attempting to do a day trip to Pisa, I would suggest you only do so if your base city is located in the region of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, or the eastern-half of Liguria. The regions of Lazio, Umbria, Marche, and Veneto are only suggested if the Frecciabianca (HYPERLINK TO STEPHEN’S BLOG) is available. This is because your best method of transportation to the city is by train, so you will need to be within a distance that is less than a three-hour ride to Stazione Pisa Centrale (pronunciation: here).

Although many people believe the Leaning Tower of Pisa to be the only attraction worth seeing, there are enough worthwhile attractions to make for the ideal day-trip.

What to do:

Before visiting Pisa, I researched which attractions were the best to visit. I consulted  tripadvisor.com while making my travel plans because it provided active reviews from past visitors. However, be careful not to limit yourself to TripAdvisor’s advice because there are hidden gems you may stumble upon along the way. For example, the Museo delle Sinopie (Pronunciation: here) is the only attraction I visited that was not listed on TripAdvisor’s Things to do in Pisa, but I was still incredibly satisfied with the museum.

The Piazza del Duomo- This humongous piazza, should logically be your first choice of destination because of the number of attractions it has. To avoid spending more time walking than sight-seeing, the Piazza del Duomo (pronunciation: here) will be the perfect destination. All of its attractions are built with a Romanesque and Gothic architectural style; which makes for amazing views. There did not appear to be a taxi hub when I arrived at the Stazione Pisa Centrale, so you will need to be prepared to walk. The piazza is located 1.5 km from the Pisa Centrale train station and is not very difficult to find. This piazza is where you’ll find the leaning tower of Pisa, the Baptistery of St. John, the Museo delle Sinopie, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Additionally, there is a tremendous variety of restaurants and shops in the surrounding area.

The Baptistery of St. John- This Roman Catholic Monument is the largest baptistery in all of Italy. A baptistery is a building used for the administering of the Sacrament of Baptism. Constructed entirely out of marble, the building was completed in 1363. Because of it’s incredible architectural design, it is a must-see for thousands of tourists each year. At just 5 euros per person, you don’t want to skip it.

Museo delle Sinopie- This museum is rather tiny in comparison to the monuments around it, but if you are an art history junky, this is the stop for you because of its unique works of art. This museum holds claim to the recovered and restored work of Giovanni di Simone’s. These works of art had to be restored because a fire nearly destroyed all of them. These are no longer completed paintings, but they are the preparatory drawings of Simone’s before he applied actual paint to the plaster. This is much different than the typical art you would find in another museum. It is certainly worth the 5 Euros to see.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta- Inside this immaculate Romanesque cathedral are sights you simply should not pass up. The center of the cathedral has approximately two sets of 12 rows of pews. Running along the sides of these pews are huge marble stone pillars. The ceiling is lined with pure gold. The walls are lined with various paintings of Christ, the Virgin, St. John, and more. Because of the incredible care and preservation, these paintings have survived for centuries. Also, if you would like a history lesson, there are media kiosks inside the cathedral that allow you to pick your preferred language. To gain access to this cathedral is free, but only if you buy access to one of the other monuments listed on this blog.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa- Last but not least is the Torre Pendente (Pronunciation: here), or leaning tower. The tower was opened in the year 1360. At just seven stories tall, the top of the tower is displaced about 13 feet from where it would be if the tower stood perfectly vertical. Clearly the most well-known attraction in the city, you can have a lot of fun with this one. At any given time in the day, you will find thousands of people posing for the “perfect shot” with this iconic building. It is actually quite entertaining to watch others as they attempt their own poses. Below, you will find a few examples of creative poses you can try if you are interested in having some fun with the leaning tower yourself.

Pisa Poses 1

(From left to right) The Kick, Holding it up, Holding me up, and Pizza with the Tower of Pisa.

Pisa Poses 2

(From left to right) The First Date, in the Palm of my Hands, and the Karate Kid.

My Personal Experience:

I thoroughly enjoyed the city of Pisa. I spent about five hours checking out the shops and touring the attractions listed above. If there was one thing I would change, I would have shifted my entire trip to earlier in the day. I arrived in Pisa at noon and departed at 5pm, and this was certainly a very busy time frame in the city. I recommend starting your trip earlier in the day to avoid the crowds. If you plan your trip to last about five or six hours, I believe the attractions listed above can certainly be enjoyed at your own pace.

While attempting your poses with the Leaning Tower, I would suggest taking a few pictures per pose. This will increase your chances of obtaining the perfect picture. Also, when attempting poses similar to the Karate Kid shown above, I suggest creating a video. By creating a video, you can take it frame-by-frame and screenshot it to create the perfect picture. Otherwise, you may be there all day trying to time the picture just right.

Pisa is definitely a city I recommend seeing during your time in Italy. As you can see from my experience, this city is definitely doable in one day. However, there are more attractions than just the aforementioned five, so if you wanted to stay overnight, there is definitely enough attractions to do so. Check out this website for additional options.

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