Pisa, Italy. Made famous by its leaning tower that defies gravity and miraculously has not toppled over yet. It is a fun destination to visit with one goal usually in mind – taking a picture holding up the Leaning Tower. That seems to be the biggest draw to the attraction these days but there’s just one problem. Pisa is in the middle of nowhere. So I’m here to help you make the most out of your trip to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
My friend Hannah and I were spending the weekend in Florence visiting some of our sorority sisters and friends. We learned that Pisa was a short distance away so we knew that this was our opportunity to go full-blown tourist and see the tower. The two of us had Eurail passes so we did not have to buy additional train tickets for the journey to Pisa. Regional trains from Firenze S.M.N. train station leave around every 30 minutes and stop at Pisa Rossore, which is the closest train station to the tower. The ticket collector came by on our journey to Pisa but didn’t stamp our passes, he just simply looked to see that we had written the date in.
The tower was surprisingly close to the train station, maybe around a kilometer or so. There are signs to direct you in the correct direction and once you round a street corner you can see the tower in the distance. I must admit that the tower was much smaller than I had expected. It was still impressive but I must’ve had my hopes up too high. Before entering the compound there are dozens of stalls selling every kind of trinket imaginable. Hannah and I didn’t stop to look and kept walking towards the tower.
It is a common misconception that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the only thing. In fact, it is a part of a compound that includes a cathedral, baptistery, and the tower itself. Each of those buildings cost to enter. However, if you are up for a challenge, you can get in for free. If you say that you want to enter the cathedral and baptistery to pray, they won’t charge you. There is a separate entrance that will be marked by signs. Some people consider it sinful to enter through the pilgrims and prayer entrances but personally, I don’t. So go inside, walk around, and send God a prayer of thanks for allowing you to visit these remarkable places. They are beautiful on the interior as well as the exterior.
Across a very green lawn towards the back of the compound is the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa. There is a fee to climb to the top which lots of people do. I did not. In my opinion, if a landmark is famous because it is about ready to fall over, there’s no way I’m going to climb it and help it lean even more. So instead, Hannah and I took pictures in front of it. In front of the tower, along the grass, there will be a line of people standing with their arms out pretending to hold up the tower. Just watching dozens of people do the exact same pose is quite entertaining. We chose to walk around to the backside of the tower where there were less tourists and more green grass. Here were some of the results.
After seeing the tower and holding it up, there really isn’t a lot to do in Pisa. It’s a nice quaint town but doesn’t include much else for tourists. Hannah and I were very hungry and we searched for a good restaurant that didn’t cater exclusively to tourists. We walked a little ways down a street filled with restaurants and over-enthusiastic maître dis. One restaurant in particular stood out to us as being authentic so we went inside. The name of it was Da Antonio and was a fairly decent price with pasta entrees starting around 7 euros. I ordered delicious ham and cream raviolis, a liter of still water, and Tiramisu for only 13 euros. By the time we left, we were stuffed for the train ride back to Florence.
Once we made it on the train, Hannah and I both did the calculations and realized we had only been in Pisa for an hour and a half. In that amount of time we were able to see the baptistery, cathedral, and held up the tower, not to mention we had a full sit-down meal. Although we didn’t do any souvenir shopping, we really did a lot during our time in Pisa. The ride back to Florence was a little over an hour. This time, nobody came by to check our ticket, which was a waste of a day on our passes. The entire trip took only around four hours round trip and left us the rest of the afternoon to explore Florence.
Have you ever been to Pisa? If so, what did you think of the Leaning Tower? Did it live up to all of the hype surrounding it?