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Mamma MIA, the leaning tower of PISA! If Pisa isn’t on your Italy bucket list, I just don’t even know… it took me 4 trips to Italy to finally make it here, but alas, it finally happened. I explored Pisa solo while staying in Lucca- it was a quick day trip to Pisa for me, but I loved it. Pisa is also a very easy day trip from Florence and the surrounding Tuscan area.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa:
As one of the most iconic and stereotypical symbols of Italy, the leaning tower of Pisa is a MUST. Just going to see the tower is free and accessible to everyone, but if you want to climb to the top, you definitely need to buy tickets (ideally in advance). Tickets are €20 and are based on entry times (they sell out). The area surrounding the tower is referred to as the Field of Miracles where you also see a large cathedral/Duomo, museums, and more! You automatically get entry to the cathedral with the tower ticket.
Super fun fact: Galileo proved the theory of gravity by dropping weights from the tower.
The whole area is absolutely beyond touristy, but that is to be expected… I say embrace it! Since I was traveling solo, I actually didn’t mind the crowds… more people to ask to take a picture of me!
A few hot tips:
- Buy a ticket to the leaning tower in advance
- Your knees and shoulders need to be covered to enter the Duomo
- There are 294 steps to get to the top, but just know the steps are uneven, narrow, and marble
- They won’t let you take bags up the tower (I had a little purse and they allowed it, but the lady in front of me had to take her purse to coat check which is in another building- she was livid)
You can book various tours for the Field of Miracles, and even walk the Pisa City Walls.
After I did my touristy exploring, photo snapping, and climbed to the top of the tower, so I wanted to check out the actual city center of Pisa. I had no idea what to expect because you NEVER hear about it, but it is super cute.
For lunch, I ate at a very NON-touristy restaurant filled with locals down a quiet side street called Osteria di Culegna Pisa. I had red wine and ravioli with ragu (Bolognese), followed by two gelatos (yes, two… I’m in ITALY) from random places as I walked around and looked at some shops. Corso Italia is the main street with all kinds of shops and cafés. You’ll also stumble across beautiful architecture. It’s absolutely worth exploring the town and not only visiting the Field of Miracles.
If you happen to fly in or out of the Pisa airport, I also HIGHLY recommend Vanilla Café for Italian pastries/coffee (close to the airport). My driver (a local) took me before I flew out. I had cream puffs and a croissant with pistachio filling. This croissant was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted and it GAVE ME LIFE. Disclaimer: a croissant a day does not keep the rolls away.
Overall a quick day trip to Pisa, but super memorable! Just know that the leaning tower of Pisa is only a tiny sliver of cool things to see in Pisa- so spend some time exploring the surrounding areas and the town.