Pisa is a small city in Tuscany on the Arno River near its
entry point into the Mediterranean Sea. It has an urban population
of about 200,000 people. The city has been in existence since before
the time of the Romans. It was a strong maritime power in the 1100s
but declined before the 1300s. The architecture in Pisa is its
Summer highs in July and August average
86 F (30 C), while lows are about 64 F (18 C). From December
to February average highs are 54 F (12 C) and average lows are 37 F
(3 C). Rainfall is highest is from September to November and lowest in July.
Early June is a good opportunity for reasonable weather and smaller crowds
For a small town, it's remarkable the Pisa has regular
international flights arriving at Pisa International Airport (PSA).
There is a small train line that connects the airport to the main train
station in Pisa (Pisa Centrale). The ride takes less than 10
minutes. Pisa Centrale allows you to connect to the rest of
Europe. It takes about an hour to reach Florence
(Firenze) and about 3 hours to reach Rome (Roma). From the Pisa
train station, it's a pleasant 30 minute walk over the Pointe di Mezzo
bridge over the Arno River and through the charming pedestrian only streets to the Leaning Tower. See directions below.
Campo Santo, Pisa
Attractions in Pisa:
Things to see and do:
Visit the main attraction for Pisa. The Campo dei Miracoli
the Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta, the Campo Santo and the Baptistery.
is located in the same place at the Piazza del Duomo.
Reservations can be made to ascend the Leaning Tower, which is a
good idea in the summer. Arrive before the tour buses or stay
until they leave and enjoy the site without the crowds.
Take a self guided tour from the Pisa Centrale train
station to the Leaning Tower. Head directly north from the
station one block to Constitution Square. Continue north on
Corso Italiana to the Ponte di Mezzo over the Arno River. The
University of Pisa is on the opposite bank to the left. The
bridge crosses to Pozzetto Square and pedestrian only streets.
The San Michele in Borgo church is on the square. Follow Borgo
Stretto and then detour on Via Ulisee Dini to Knights Square.
The Carovana Palace, the Scuola Normale founded by Napoleon and the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri
are located here. Then head back east on Via Consoli del Mare
to Via Giosue Carducci. Next head north to the St Trope
Convent and the ancient remains of the gate at Port Parlascio.
From there you can see the Leaning Tower to the west on Via
Cardinale Maffi Pietro. Start early in the morning and stroll
with the locals as they buy coffee and head to work.
Day in Pisaby Tim Anderson
Our trip to Italy started with a flight in to Pisa, which was a great location to start from. Our experience in Pisa was wonderful, but our initial experience of finding our B&B was stressful.
After purchasing our inexpensive ticket for the 5 minute train ride from the airport to Pisa Centrale, we walked to our B&B,
The Expedia map turned out to not have enough detail to clarify our route. The GPS turned out not to know our B&B and I couldn't get a street
address reading that matched. Half a block away, the locales didn't recognize the destination or street we were hoping for. Finally we looked across
the street and saw a number 14 with small print underneath it that was readable only up to a distance of a few feet. The door was solid with no other
advertising. This was our accommodation, which is typical of B&B signage in Italy. Pisa had a great thunderstorm in the night from about 4am to 6am
including pouring rain. In the morning this B&B provided a myriad of food and beverage choice.
Our host gave us walking instructions to the Campo dei Miracoli and the
Leaning Tower along the Corso Italia. The route was an extremely
pleasant stroll along a pedestrian only avenue that also crossed the River Arno. We felt like locals as we all ambled with purpose to our
various destinations. About half way along the 15 minute walk the rain started. . Although we all got wet, this meant that the crowds at the
Tower were non-existent. We headed first to the baptistery, which was an amazing experience. We were the only ones in it. The attendant
came by and sang a complete harmonic echo song into the dome for us. Very special. I'm still blown away. Next we visited the sculptures
and crypts in the Campo Santo, which is a walled cemetery on the piazza. This too was amazing, not only for the intricate carving, but
because we again were the only ones there. Next we went to our appointed 9am tour of the Leaning Tower. There were only 8 of us who
went up in the rainy weather. The ascent is via a stairway within the exterior wall, so no problem for those with height problems. It is
disorienting to wind your way up though. When you reach the side that leans out the most, it makes your feet shift toward the outside
and your head moves toward the centre. You feel like you are going to slide out through the narrow slits in the wall. The marble steps
are worn and dug out from all the pilgrims who have made the climb through the ages. The walls are worn smooth by the hands that have
reached out to maintain balance. At the top, there is an open area of bells and then one final small ascent to the very top, which was too
much for my vertigo.
Our last visit was to the church. This was a more typical tourist visit for Italy. By the time the church opened, the rain let up and the tour
buses arrived. The church was full of large groups being led in a variety of languages. The art on the walls is gigantic, but has a very
dark wall paper appearance. The structure and alcoves are gigantic and impressive. Couldn't help thinking how lucky we were up until
then to have had the place to ourselves. Our trip to Pisa was fantastic.