During our visit to Rome, Andy and I took an extra day to hop on a train and visit Pisa, Italy.
For years, I’d seen pictures in textbooks of that iconic leaning tower but 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. Rumors have it that Pisano fled to Sicily after constructing the tower because he was embarrassed that it turned out to be leaning. Little did he know the soil underneath was soft, causing the structure to lean and having nothing to do with Pisano’s architectural skills afterall.
Pisa is home to around 100,000 people but as we were walking the streets it definitely didn’t feel like a busy place; we were able to roam freely through cobblestone alleyways without many other people in sight. The main attractions, like hte Tower and the Plaza, are generally centralized, leaving most of the roads open from tourists. The entire city is adorned with enchanting Tuscany-inspired terracotta roofs and smells of authentic Italian pasta float through the air as you whisk your way around the city.
Here’s a Day Trip to Pisa, Italy:
We took a train with a direct route from Roma Termini to the Pisa Centrale train station. We departed Rome at 8:30 a.m., arriving in Pisa around 11 a.m. and returned to Rome the same evening at around 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 place to eat called Ristorante Lo Schiaccianoci. The restaurant’s only open for lunch from 12-3 and then for dinner in the evenings so we were lucky to catch it at an open hour. The meal I ordered was my first opportunity to indulge in authentic Italian pizza and Tortellini Carbonara and it was absolutely to die for. The wine we drank was a local Italian semi-sweet white.
Exploring the Town
After eating, we continued heading east to explore the town a bit before heading to the Leaning Tower. 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 Field of Miracles
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.
Buying Tickets for the Leaning Tower
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.
Duomo di Pisa
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:
The Outside of the Leaning Tower
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 Inside of the Leaning Tower
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. Only around 10 people are admitted inside at a time so there’s room to move about. Upon entering the Tower’s lobby, we could already feel the lean beneath our feet. The tour guide asked us all to take a seat for an introduction and when we sat down on the north side against the wall we felt like we were falling forward out of our seats! 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.
Returning Back to Rome
After our tour of the Tower, we snagged some gelato from a local vendor and made our way back to the station. We hopped on our train and made it back to Rome around 11 p.m.
Was the Day Trip Worth It?
YES! I was actually pretty reserved about the idea of leaving Rome for a day when my husband brought it up but I’m so incredibly happy that we did it. Pisa is such a quaint little Italian city and, if given the chance, should be visited by all travelers around the world to see the iconic landmarks that it hosts. I truly adored everything about the little unplanned excursion and I think that taking a day trip there is definitely a sufficient amount of time to explore the town.
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