On a week-long trip to Rome, my husband and I took a 2.5 hour train ride for a day trip to Pisa, Italy. I’d seen pictures in textbooks of that iconic leaning tower for years and never dreamt that I’d actually see it in person. I was always intrigued by the story of the Leaning Tower and how the true architect is unknown, though highly considered to be Bonanno Pisano. Many tales of Pisano include how he was embarrassed by the lean of the tower, since it was built on soft ground, and fled to Sicily.
Although Pisa is home to around 100,000 people, it seems like a small town when you’re walking around. The main attractions are generally centralized, leaving the cobblestoned roads open from tourists. The entire city is adorned with enchanting Tuscany-inspired terracotta roofs and smells of authentic Italian pasta, floating through the air and begging you to indulge.
Getting to Pisa
Our train was on a direct route from Roma Termini to the Pisa Centrale train station, departing at 8:30 a.m. and arriving in Pisa around 11 a.m. We returned the same evening back to Rome at about 11 p.m. While it may seem like a short period to visit and explore a city, I found that we had ample time to see what Pisa had to offer. If you want to go directly to the Leaning Tower from the train station, the walk will take about 10 minutes.
Once we arrived at the train station, we headed east to find a quaint little restaurant called Ristorante Lo Schiaccianoci. It’s only open for lunch from 12-3 and then for dinner in the evenings, so we caught it at a good time. The meal I had at this restaurant was the first time I was able to indulge in authentic Italian pizza and Tortellini Carbonara and it was to die for. The wine we drank was a local Italian semi-sweet white.
Exploring the Town
After eating, we continued heading east to adventure. Along the way, we stumbled upon many beautiful buildings, embellished with Romanesque architecture and detailed statues.
The Arno River runs directly through Pisa and is charmingly lined with Italian-style stucco houses. When we were in Rome, I didn’t get that Italianesque-feel as I’m sure I would in Tuscany or Venice so coming to Pisa was a breath of fresh air.
The Main Event
After strolling on the east side of Pisa, we began our walk towards the Leaning Tower. Visiting landmark monuments that I’ve only ever read about in school is one of the most inspiring things for me so I was understandably excited.
When we arrived to the area of the Tower, I was surprised to find other monuments surrounding it that I wasn’t aware of before. I learned that the Leaning Tower (Pisa’s bell tower) is one of four buildings that make up the Cathedral Complex, called Piazza dei Miracoli, or Field of Miracles.
We found the ticket office on the north side of the square to buy a ticket for a tour of the Leaning Tower. Tickets were 18 Euro when bought ahead of time at towerofpisa.org, or about 25 Euro when bought at the ticket office. After purchasing, we were given a scheduled time to begin the Tower tour and instructed that our personal belongings must be placed in a locker for security purposes. We had about an hour before our tour began so, luckily enough, the ticket price also included an admission into the Cathedral.
The Cathedral, called Duomo di Pisa, began construction in 1093 and is one of the few completely-intact monuments left standing in Italy that truly embodies the Romanesque architecture from medieval time.
The inside of the Cathedral is just as stunning as the outside:
By the time we explored the inside of the Cathedral, we had about 15 minutes to spare before our tour of the Tower began. I took this time to walk around the perimeter of the Tower, taking photos from different angles because I was relishing in how the Tower’s shape and iconic lean adjusted to where I was standing.
The Grand Finale
When it was time for the tour, we walked up to the base of the tower to find a guide directing us into the entrance. The group consists of about 10 people so it doesn’t get too crowded inside.
Upon entering the Tower’s lobby, we could literally feel the “lean!” When we were asked to take a seat for an introduction, we sat on the left side and literally felt like we were falling forward out of our seat the entire time. What more could you want out of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, right?
A climb of 8 floors with over 280 steps is required to reach the top of the bell tower. Because it’s narrow and hard to get around others, it took us about 10-15 minutes but it wasn’t difficult at a slow pace.
Once you make it to the top, the views of Pisa are outstanding with the Tower casting a leaning shadow over the city.
Pisa is such a quaint little Italian city and, if given the chance, should be visited by all traveler’s around the world to see the iconic landmarks that it hosts.
I truly adored everything about Pisa and I think that taking a day trip there is a sufficient amount of time to explore the town.
Have you ever been to Pisa? If yes, what were your thoughts and how much time did you spend there? If no, is it on your travel bucket-list?