When it comes to Italy, there are probably a few landmarks you knew by heart since young: Colosseum, Duomo di Milano, Canale Grande in Venice, Leaning Tower of Pisa, just to name a few. And when it comes to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, tourists literally just flock to Pisa for that iconic picture where they put their Trick Eye Museum skills to the test. We know it, yet we still do it. Sometimes we just have to get certain things ticked off the bucket list, eh?
Having pressed on time, my friends and I did a quick day trip to Pisa from Florence, so here’s a quick guide on your ‘stopover’ at Pisa, in Tuscany, Italy should you want to do the same!
There are 2 railway stations that are in the city centre of Pisa: Pisa Centrale and Pisa S.Rossore. To get the most out of your day trip there, I strongly recommend you to arrive at Pisa Centrale, and depart from Pisa S.Rossore or vice versa, whichever timing works best for you when you book your tickets.
Pisa Centrale is a bit further from the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa), which requires a good 20 minutes stroll to get there. In return, you get more out of it by walking past some quaint European streets, local boutique shops, more gelato choices and get different view of Pisa along the Ponte Sofferino.
Leaving, we took another direct train from Pisa S.Rossore back to Florence, where the train journey took slightly more than an hour.
WHAT TO EXPECT
all these failed attempts oops
Apart from the walk from Pisa Centrale to the Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli), expect a lot of humans once you arrive at the latter where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is. The next thing you know you’re following what every other tourist is doing – trying to get a spot of your own hopefully without any photobombers, and then work out a variety of trick eye museum poses in front of your camera. But just so you know, the tower wouldn’t seem like it’s slanting at certain angles, such as this:
And hence, to your amazement, you’ll soon realise only some “spots” work, or else you’ll have to be the slanted one. I’m not sure why either, gotta ask a physics expert.
Should you climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes, definitely! And even book it in advance because they restrict the number of entries for every half an hour. It was a pity as we were tied on time – otherwise it would have been a good bird eye view of historical Pisa! And how else would you be able to experience an engineering-failed-project-but-turned-famous-monument?
At the Square of Miracles, you could also check out the Cathedral (Duomo), the Baptistery, and the Monumental Cemetery. You probably won’t miss them out, and compose them in your shots together with the tower anyway.
WHAT TO EAT
Pisa is famous for cecina, a type of bread made with chickpea flour, water, oil, salt and black pepper. Most restaurants in Italy served it in a flat bread, known as the schiacciatina. Otherwise you could even eat it on its own! I didn’t manage to try this, but it’s apparently mostly eaten at Pizzeria Il Montino, which is situated between Pisa Centrale Station and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. So should you find yourself there around lunch time, you may want to check this place out despite the mixed reviews.
A NOTE OF CAUTION
When we were walking towards Pisa S.Rossore station, we almost got pickpocketed by a group of teenagers. It’s strange how instinct work wonders in situations like this. I sensed someone creeping up behind me even though I couldn’t hear any footsteps, I turned and found this little girl so close to me that it’s obvious that she was intending to do something. And my friend walking next to me had her bag buckle opened (with a teenage boy close behind her). As soon as we realised, the teenagers immediately acted like they’d wanted to ask questions and then ran away quickly back to their group of friends.
After this incident, we learnt first hand how important it is to not let your guard down even in smaller cities. They said Rome is notorious with pickpockets, and Milan full of conning tactics like the friendship band, but I guess such crimes can happen anywhere, across Italy and beyond. As with any travels, exercise caution and always be vigilant.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this quick guide to Pisa and hope you have fun posing! 😉