Pisa, Italy

It wasn’t the early morning summer sunshine that coaxed me from my slumber but the already oppressive heat and the drone from the airconditioning unit that didn’t seem to be coping that dragged me into the day.

It was our second morning in Pisa but our first time exploring what this little town had to offer as we’d spent the previous day in Florence. We were set to leave Pisa that afternoon bound for Elba and I had read that half a day in Pisa was more than enough time to explore it.

Pisa airport is so close to the town that you can be in the hub of it all in under 10 minutes by car, a cab ride to the city is around €10. You can take a train at €5 per person but if there is more than 2 of you a taxi will work out far better value for money and probably less hassle. Getting a cab though doesn’t appear to be an easy thing.

Pisa has a big, busy station and so is a great place to get to other parts of the country easily.

Top tip: you must validate your ticket before boarding any train in Italy, failure to do so, could result in a hefty fine if the ticket is inspected. Proof of purchase is not enough and they work on the basis that ignorance is no excuse. The green validation machines are on every platform and in other parts of the station too. This goes for any station in Italy.

Up and dressed we left our whimsically decorated room, aptly named: Giulietta, and made our way to breakfast.

The hotel was very small and only offered a continental style breakfast, a large, filled croissant is not my usual breakfast choice but with all the walking we had planned I figured I’d walk it off ( the lies we tell ourselves).

Suncreamed and capped we left the hotel to stroll through the narrow back streets in the morning sun. I could barely contain my excitement: I’d wanted to see the leaning tower for as long as I could remember; I fully hold Judith Charmers and’ wish you were here responsible for my love of travel.

Few people appeared to be milling about until we neared the ‘Piazza dei Miracoli‘: the square of miracles. It being the height of summer the area was crowded with tourists, all trying to get that perfect ‘holding up the tower‘ photo. Not easy as we all found out.

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A million takes later and we had all managed a passable photo. The queues to climb the tower are controlled by a booking system: 22 people are allocated a slot at any one time and slots are available every 15 minutes. Tickets cost €12 for adults and children climb for free, however, unless you have the whole day in Pisa I suggest you book online at least the night before to avoid disappointment. We were unable to climb the tower because despite the hour only being around 10 am the next available slot was at 2pm and we would no longer be in Pisa at that time. So climbing the tower will be something we may return to do one day.

The tower began to lean once they had constructed the third floor due to poor foundations, it’s no surprise to me that it took them 177 years to finish building it, nothing happens fast in Italy! The tower closed for restoration in 1992 and didn’t reopen until 2001. Other buildings are still under restoration.

The tower is not the only building in the square: three churches resembling ornate wedding cakes- according to my mum- are also there surrounded by a medieval wall. There was no way on earth I was going to get the children to wander awestruck in and out of ancient churches marveling at the architecture, so when they’d finished taking photos and performing gymnastics moves we went for a wander up on the walls. Where I wowed William with my archer knowledge.

For €3 for anyone over 10 you can take a stroll up heigh, on one side is the Piazza dei Miracoli with its throngs of tourists milling about on the other, the everyday life of Pisa with its market and many shops. While behind you, lay the many sleeping forever in an old graveyard.

centuries of history in 360 degrees.

We walked for as long as the children’s interest held on, peering into the gardens of those lucky enough to live with such a view. Midday and bellies inevitably rumble, so it was off to find lunch.

we whiled away our final hour and a half sampling a delicious ‘insalata Mediterranea’ and carbonara washed down with ice-cold beer and water( with so much fresh produce to hand I think it’s impossible to have a bad meal in Italy) surrounded by buildings that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Disneyland.

The day was not complete without a trip to buy some tacky tourist tat before heading to the station our sights set on Elba.

 

Ciao Pisa ci vediamo!

 

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