When you hear the mention of Pisa in Tuscany, one thing springs to mind – the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After all, it is one of the most important sights in Italy, if not the world, and it can easily be reached on a day trip from Florence.
Indeed this small Italian town lying on the banks of the Arno River is a magnet for daytrippers who flock from Florence to see the architectural phenomenon in Pisa of a solid column of marble tilting at an unbelievable angle. And, of course, to capture that must-have leaning tower of Pisa photograph of them supporting the building with one hand.
I have tried it myself, and getting the perfect image is not as easy as it looks!
In this post, you will find helpful advice on how to get to Pisa from Florence, tips on what to see and how to buy tickets for Pisa’s landmark buildings.
How to Get to Pisa from Florence by Train
Visiting Pisa by train is quick and easy, as links are regular and reliable, and it’s a perfect day trip from Florence. You can hop on the train from Firenze S.M.N station, Florence Santa Maria Novella, located near Florence’s historic centre, and be in Pisa in an hour. Trains from Florence also run to Venice if you have time on your Italy itinerary.
Once you arrive at Pisa Centrale station, it is a 20-minute walk to the major landmarks. Leave the station and follow Via Francesco Crispi to Ponte Solferino. Cross the River Arno and then continue along Piazza Solferino which continues into Via Roma. This street takes you straight to the Piazza del Duomo, home of the leaning tower of Pisa.
Plenty of taxis are outside Pisa Centrale station if you don’t fancy the walk.
Remember that if you buy your train ticket at the station, you must validate it before boarding the train. This is because the ticket only shows the date but not the time, and ticket inspectors need to see this information.
Ticket validation machines are located all around the station.
If you have bought an online ticket or are travelling on Trenitalia’s high-speed trains, no validation is required as a reservation date and time will already have been confirmed.
Check ticket prices and times on the Trenitalia Website
Pisa Tours From Florence
If sorting out train schedules in Italian seems a little daunting, then a guided tour from Florence to Pisa is a better option. Some tours incorporate a trip into the Tuscan countryside with sightseeing in Pisa.
Pisa’s Main Attractions
Pisa’s incredible monuments stand in Piazza dei Miracoli. The Square of Miracles is home to the must-see attractions in Pisa and is one of the world’s most famous architectural complexes.
On arrival at the Piazza dei Miracoli, you can see all the sights for free and take those iconic Pisa photographs. However, if you want to go inside any of the monuments buying the correct tickets can be a bit tricky.
There are single landmark tickets, leaning tower of Pisa tickets only and combination tickets, including all the landmarks. And while entry to the cathedral is free, you must show a paid ticket for one of the other monuments!
An easy option to avoid the queuing crowds and the confusion is to pre-book a guided tour. A good one to book is with Get-Your-Guide, which gives entry to the Cathedral, Baptistery, and Campo Santa with the option of climbing to the top of the tower.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The 14th-century tower of Pisa stands 56m high and functions as a bell tower (campanile). It has become famous in its own right, similar to the bell tower in St Mark’s Square Venice.
Climbing up inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a must. If you have come all this way, you have to experience the weird sensation of that angle! The breathtaking view after climbing up the 294 steps is a good reward.
Tickets to climb the tower sell out quickly at the ticket office and so it is safer to pre-book a timed ticket for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can then arrive and head straight to the front of the queue.
The Tower of Pisa started leaning even before construction was over, however, in the 1990s engineers took steps to make it stable. The result is that it won’t move again for at least 300 years!
Next to the leaning tower is the beautiful 11th-century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral (Pisa Cathedral). Don’t miss the Basilica dome with its stunning fresco depicting the Assumption of Mary.
The rich exterior decoration contains multicoloured marble, mosaic, and numerous bronze objects from the spoils of war.
San Giovanni Baptistery
Next to the cathedral are the San Giovanni Baptistery and the Camposanto cemetery. The Baptistery was used to baptize people, so they were allowed to enter the church. It is now also renowned worldwide for the acoustics that vocalists can create in its round, domed building. If you are lucky, you may hear one of the daily choir practices.
Pisa Baptistery was built before the tower and also slightly leans to one side. The cause of all the ‘leaning’ in Pisa is the rich sand and clay soil which is a nightmare to build on.
Campo Santo Old Cemetery is a stunningly beautiful building with interesting 13th-century frescoes and information boards in Italian and English. The colourful fresco ‘Inferno’ looks at the possibility of heaven and hell. There are also many Roman graves at the site. A combination ticket for the Piazza dei Miracoli attractions includes Campo Santo.
The cemetery was constructed on Holy Soil from Jerusalem which was transported back to Pisa in the 13th century, giving it its name Campo Santo (Holy Field).
Explore Pisa Away from Piazza dei Miracoli
Believe it or not, there is life away from the Piazza dei Miracoli.
Stroll along Pisa’s cobbled lanes and find a quiet spot to sit away from the hustle and bustle around the leaning tower. Head inside one of Pisa’s tavernas for a delicious glass of Vinsanto (local dessert wine) accompanied by traditional biscotti (Tuscan biscuit), or sit in the shade of a fig tree and enjoy watching the world go by.
And for visitors looking for authentic Italian ceramics and leather goods, the artisan shops in Pisa sell beautifully crafted pieces.
If the day’s heat becomes too much, take a stroll along the banks of the River Arno and admire the palazzos (grand houses) that line its banks. See if you can spot the white marble Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina, looking somewhat out of character besides the pastel-coloured buildings.
On the opposite side of the Arno River, the Museo Nazionale is the best museum in Pisa to discover the history of this beautiful Tuscan city. Artefacts include paintings, sculptures and religious manuscripts.
Activity Tours in Pisa
After visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you may like to continue your time in Pisa on an activity tour.
If you love Italy, you may enjoy reading these other Italian Travel Posts:
10 Most Beautiful Lakes to Visit in Italy
How to See the Colourful Town of Burano in Venice
3 Sensational Nights in Venice
How to Use the Water Transport in Venice
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