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Located on the western coast of Italy and famous for its leaning tower, Pisa is a city that's rich in artistic and cultural heritage. One of the most charming towns on the Italian peninsula, it's an essential stop on any tour around this majestic Mediterranean country. Renowned also for another must-visit attraction, the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), heaved with artistic wonders and architectural marvels, Pisa is strategically located, close to important cities such as Livorno and Florence, as well as to seaside towns like Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. Well connected to the whole Tuscany region and the other areas of Italy via Pisa Centrale, the city's main train station, Pisa is the perfect destination to discover and explore by train: daily frequent regional trains travel to Pisa from nearby Lucca and La Spezia respectively taking 30 and 50 minutes. The proximity to Florence (less than 1 hour by train) makes the connection to Italy's major urban centres easy and fast: high-speed trains, operated by both Trenitalia (via Frecciarossa trains) and Italo, travel daily from Rome to Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella) taking approximately 1h 37mins; from Milan having an average journey time of 2h 43mins. Frequent regional trains from Florence allow then travellers to reach Pisa in less than 1 hour. From Pisa Centrale train station also departs the rail service People Mover, which directly connects the city centre to the Pisa Airport.

Visiting Pisa

Pisa is a city which can be easily discovered and explored on foot — but for the ones who prefer just to relax, bus services are available across the whole metropolitan area.

Among its many points of interest, Pisa offers visitors views over the Arno. Elegant buildings and historic churches line the banks of this river and serve to welcome visitors arriving in Pisa by train. This beautiful stretch of scenery is just a 15-minute walk from the main station. The Ponte de Mezzo connects the two halves of Pisa and should be the next port of call for any tourist. After crossing the bridge, visitors can head 5 minutes north to the Piazza dei Cavalieri, otherwise known as Knights' Square. However, it's in a different square that travellers will meet the real soul of the city. The Piazza dei Miracoli is just an 8-minute walk further and a must-visit spot for anyone seeing Pisa for the first time. Here, visitors will be able to admire Pisa’s cathedral, called Cattedrale Metropolitana Primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta. Both of these landmarks are splendid examples of Romanesque architecture, characterised by imposing white marble and vibrant detail. Heading inside, tourists will be able to marvel at the gilded wooden ceilings. The Battistero di San Giovanni is another sight that's bound to impress, with a stunning dome covered by red tiles. For those visiting the city for the first time, paying a visit to the tower that has come to symbolise this Tuscan town is an absolute must. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is renowned the world over. The distinctive angle of this famous landmark once meant that the building was closed off to visitors. However, since its restoration, this iconic monument has been opened up for tourists to enjoy in close detail.

But Pisa shouldn't be seen as the only destination of an enchanting getaway in Italy. A good rail network and affordable train tickets make in fact possible to travel from Pisa Centrale station to other nearby Tuscan towns: apart from the stunning Florence, Lucca, Livorno and Viareggio are ideal day trips less than 30 minutes away by train. Train tickets start here from less than 5 Euros.

Get to know Pisa a little better for visiting

Pisa has so much more to offer than just its tower, but every visitor needs to head to the Piazza dei Miracoli to see for themselves how those 12th century architects made such a fine mess of things. Construction started in 1173. Ten years later, with three floors built, they realised the tower was sinking into the soft Pisa mud. Despite this, they carried on, straightening each section, with the result that the whole thing curves as well as tilts. With the addition of the top section and seven bells, what you see today is proof that even with a five degree list, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still one of the most beautiful buildings in Italy.

Entry is by timed ticket and costs 18 Euros. At peak periods book in advance or expect a lengthy wait. Stepping into the ground floor of the tower is quite a shock, as your left foot will be higher than your right. Ascending the tower is also strange, as one side of the tower is easier to climb than the other, the marble steps worn accordingly uneven. The views from the top over Pisa and the Tuscan hills beyond are spectacular, and well worth the effort.

Entry to the cathedral is included in your Tower ticket. If it's the only thing you wish to see, you'll still need to visit the ticket office across the piazza to get a free pass. Inside, it's as grand as they come, with gilded ceilings, stained glass and marble columns. Other attractions in the Piazza dei Miracoli include the Camposanto, a cemetery that is the final resting place for notable Pisan residents, as well as the Sinopie museum and Opera del Duomo, though the latter is currently closed for refurbishment. You can also rent a horse and carriage for a clip clop around the town's cobbles.

Heading back towards the town, the streets of Pisa are full of cafes and souvenir shops to tempt all but the most resolute of tourists. On the way, detour to Piazza dei Cavalieri to admire the artistry of its buildings. Alternatively, to avoid the crowds, cut across Via Cardinale Maffi and take a look at the Roman baths. Elegant Santa Caterina church is worth at least a photo stop before you work your way along colonnaded walkways to the river. The River Arno is lined with elegant mansions, most notably Palazzo Blu, on the south bank. Also south of the river, Via Corso is Pisa's main shopping street. If you're hungry, grab a meal in the Borgo Stretto area or in the San Martino quarter. Tap into this university city's student vibe at Il Montino in Piazza San Felice but work up an appetite first - their pizzas are as filling as they are cheap.

Getting to Pisa by train

Pisa is well connected to other major Italian cities, including Florence, just an hour away with frequent connections. From the station it's a 2km walk down to Piazza dei Miracoli. Alternatively, take the number 4 bus from outside the station to the Roman baths and approach the Leaning Tower from along Via Cardinale Maffi instead.

Need to know

Bags, including handbags, must be checked in the free left luggage office (located next to the ticket office) before you go up the Leaning Tower. Cameras can be taken. Children under eight cannot. The top is open to the elements and so those worn marble steps can get slippery when wet - check the weather forecast before you buy your ticket.

 

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