Pisa, known to the World because of its famous leaning tower and Campo Santo, has very much to offer the traveller. Settled since at least 1000 BC. it was an important Etruscan town which expanded further under Roman rule. Pisa not only has the beautiful and extraordinary Campo Santo with the baptistery and leaning tower, it also has masses of places to visit – from churches and bridges over the Arno river, to beaches and national parks on the coast, and nearby hill-towns.
Where is Pisa?
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy and it is largely known for the famous leaning tower. It is also the main airport for Tuscany so is where many people will land when they come to visit Tuscany.
The city is on the Tuscan coast, at the end of the river Arno that flows past Florence and ends here, in Pisa.
Getting to Pisa
Many people will fly into Pisa. The airport there is the Galileo Galilei International Airport (PSA) and is the principal airport for Tuscany.
From the UK there are daily flights with BA, EasyJet, Ryanair and others. Skyscanner can be a useful way to find out more about flights to Pisa.
What to see in and around Pisa
If you do decide to visit Pisa, then there are a few gems we feel you should see. The first of these is The Square of Miracles, or Campo dei Miracoli, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987. At the far side of this grassy square is the leaning bell tower, as it’s part of the beautiful Roman Catholic Duomo di Pisa built in the imposing Pisan Romaneque style and a vision in white marble. The square also houses the domed baptistery, where Galileo was baptised, and the Camposanto Monumentale which is the final resting place of notable Italians including Fibonacci. This square takes visitors through every stage of the lifecycle – from birth and baptism, through a life within the church, and to death – a miracle indeed.
See this page for more information on buying tickets to visit the tower of Pisa
Piazza dei Cavalieri
This beautiful square is a short walk away from the Tower of Pisa. It was once the harbour of Pisa, later the political heart of the city, where the seafaring population would gather to discuss victories and strategies. The present appearance of the square owes more to work done by the victorious Florentines, after they conquered Pisa in 1406. The large Palazzo with ‘sgraffito’ decorations (the white and black intricate patterns) was re-modernised by Giorgio Vasari, when he rebuilt the square in 1558. The statue by the Palazzo is of Cosimo de’Medici, from the same period.
Today the large and imposing Palazzo della Carovana is home to the scuola normale di Pisa, a university founded by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is famous for the quality of its mathematics and physics graduates, which include Enrico Fermi.
Church of San Francesco
The next must see is not quite as beautiful on the outside – and could be discounted at first glance. However, the Church of San Francesco is not one to be missed. It was built (and re-built) in the 1200s, with another restoration occurring in the 1600s when its marble frontage was added. Early renaissance painter,Taddeo di Bartolo, painted frescoes for the church in the 1300s and several of its paintings were stolen during a period of Napoleonic looting and are now housed in the Louvre, including the Maestà by Cimabue. If you want to feel part of Italian history – then a visit here is a great way to do it.
Museum of San Matteo
For art lovers who want to escape the crowds, a visit to the peaceful and relatively quiet Museum of San Matteois a fantastic way to while away an hour or two. The museum is housed in a 13th Century Benedictine monastery on the banks of the River Arno, and showcases paintings and sculptures from the 12th-18th century. Here you can find sculptures by Donatello, religious paintings by Giunta Pisano, and the 1320 Saint Catherine of Alexandria Polyptych by Simone Martini
Good Restaurants in Pisa
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in and around Pisa, you might like to take the short drive to the coast, and eat al-fresco, facing the sea. The photo above was taken in April and it was already sunny and pleasant to be out!
In Marina di Pisa, try:
Osteria Marina Il Peschereccio
Via della Repubblica Pisana 62, 56128 ,Marina di Pisa
Via Litoranea, 18, 56128, Marina di Pisa
If you’re looking for somewhere in Pisa itself, try:
Trattoria la Tortuga
Via Lucchese, 33A, 56123 Pisa
or if you want somewhere closer to the Tower (keeping in mind that many of the closest restaurants are a bit touristy) this might be a perfect fit – a short walk away:
Vicolo delle Donzelle 9-11, Pisa