Pisa

PISA, ITALY: It is the city of a famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei. But what Pisa is mostly known for is the Leaning Tower. It is the emblem of both Pisa and Italy. There are many more leaning towers around the world in cities like Dusseldorf (Germany), Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.), Copenhagen(Denmark), and etc. Some of them are not perpendicular to the ground because of errors in design whereas some were designed intentionally that way. But Pisa’s Leaning Tower is undoubtedly the most famous amongst all of them.

A miracle – The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa is a lovely, little town situated in the northern part of Tuscany, about little more than an hour drive from Florence. It is surrounded by big Pisan Mountains and lots of greeneries. The River Arno makes its way in and around Pisa beautifying surrounding cities and villages with its presence. Most people come to Pisa just to see the tower, but the small villages right outside Pisa can give you the real taste of Tuscany.

Snow-capped Pisan Mountains on our way to Florence

TIME OF TRAVELING: We flew to Pisa in the first week of February, 2012. It was the worst idea to travel to the Tuscan region at that time of the year. The temperature was not only below freezing but also the wind just made it even worse. After being there for a day, I just wanted to come back to my cozy home where I can cuddle up with my kids in the bed. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of tourists in Pisa at that time, but none traveling with little kids like us. What were we thinking?

OUR HOTEL: The first 2 nights in Pisa we stayed in Hotel Villa Leaning Tower, only 10 minutes walk from the Leaning Tower and Piazza dei Miracoli. But I wouldn’t recommend anyone to stay in this hotel. It was more like a hostel (which wasn’t mentioned in their website). The heater wasn’t working properly and there was no one at the reception desk when we needed assistance. Then after our trip to Florence, we came back to Pisa again and stayed there 1 night. This time our hotel was Hotel Terminus Plaza. This one was very nice hotel with great customer service, cheap breakfast (only 4 euros per person) and free wi-fi. This was a bit far from Piazzza dei Miracoli (where the Leaning Tower is situated), but closer to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.

WHAT TO BUY FROM PISA: Pisa is one of the cities in Tuscan. Therefore, buying good quality extra virgin olive oil and preserved olives are some tasty ideas. Also, who wouldn’t want to buy variety of pastas when in Italy? Just remember that most of the souvenir shops close around 5 pm in winter.

Different types of Italian pasta

PLACES WE VISITED: As I mentioned it was way too cold in Pisa when we went. So, I really couldn’t enjoy Pisa very well. There are lot more things to do and see there other than the Leaning Tower. Hopefully we will get to go back there again to enjoy its surrounding atmosphere.

Piazza del Duomo or Piazza dei Miracoli at night

  • Piazza de Miracoli or Campo de Miracoli or Piazza del Duomo: This is the home of “Miracle”. That’s where mostly all visitors go at first when visiting Pisa. The piazza itself is an UNESCO World Heritage site since it contains city’s most visited places. The 2  museums in the piazza that we didn’t go this time were  Museo del Opera del Duomo and Museo delle Sinopie. People can use different entrances/gates to get into the piazza. There are lots of souvenir shops in the piazza and cafes in the nearby streets, also a McDonald’s right outside the gate closer to the Baptistery. Here are the places we did go despite the freezing weather.

Three major structures in Piazza del Duomo or Piazza dei Miracoli. All the way to the left – Baptistery, in the middle – Duomo di Pisa, at the end – Leaning Tower

1) Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente): Growing up I’ve heard so much about the 7 wonders of the world from my dad. He wasn’t much of a traveler, but he would randomly ask us to name the 7 wonders of the world. Now a days every invention is a wonder, but back in the days this structure was truly a masterpiece. Even now when I looked at the tower for the first time I was amazed to see how an error can become a miracle.

The magnificent Leaning Tower of Pisa

Just to give you a little bit of history on the tower, the tower was originally made to serve as the cathedral’s bell tower. The construction started around in 1173 A.D. But soon afterwards the tower started leaning due to unstable soil and a flawed design. Various attempts were made to prevent the tower from tipping over and finally reached a successful method in 2001 to stabilize the tower.

Duomo di Pisa with it’s bell tower – Torre Pendente

Tourists can buy tickets to go up the tower. The entrance fee is 15 euros per person and children under 8 years old are not allowed. There are 296 steps that will take you all the way up to the tower  to get a panoramic view of Pisa. Unfortunately, we have to wait another 6 years when my little one is 8 to get on top of the tower.

The tilted base of Leaning Tower of Pisa

2) Duomo di Pisa: This is also known as the Cathedral of Pisa. The construction of this medieval style cathedral started back in 1064 A.D. The cathedral houses many artworks by some major Italian artists, like Giambologna, Dela Robbia, and others. Gigantic granite pillars, black and white marble, impressive mosaic, a fine pulpit, and a cupola give this cathedral a sophisticated look.

Duomo di Pisa (Cathedral of Pisa)

It is free to enter the Duomo. The opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Interior of Duomo di Pisa

3) Baptistery (Battistero): This is the large round Romanesque dome near Duomo di Pisa. We didn’t go inside the Baptistery. The exterior of it is decorated with many sculptures. This dates back to the mid 12th century and it is the largest baptistery in Italy.

Baptistery in Piazza del Duomo in Pisa – the biggest baptistery in Italy

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