I was much more wow’d by Pisa than I imaged that I would be. My expectations were that we would show up in a large field and see nothing but a rather unattractive white leaning tower and a church. Not quite. This is why I love moments such as this – to see what one might describe as a “tourist trap” for myself and leave being pleasantly surprised. Granted again, we were there in the last days of February so the crowd was minimal.
It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and almost 60 degrees. This made for perfect weather to get our pictures “holding up” the Tower (Along with a couple hundred others). The tower, by the way, is much more beautiful in person than one would expect.
A little over an hour train ride from the Florence Centrale Train Station, a trip to Pisa can be done in roughly a half of a day. Take the train from Florence Centrale (headed in the direction Livorno) to the Pisa Centrale Train Station. From there it is about a mile walk to the tower, Baptistry, and Duomo (Cathedral). This walk is mostly a straight shot eventually veering to the left – basically, follow all of the tourists once you get off the train. The walk takes you down Pisa’s main drag lined with shops and pizza joints. The architecture is colorful and definitely Italian. Some of the building styles looked Venetian to me, with the long skinny windows arched and decorated at the top.
You’ll cross the Arno River on your walk to the Tower and then suddenly, the Tower emerges before you. I’ve read in guidebooks that the climb of the Tower is not worth the vertigo or the price you pay for the (not so great) view, so we opted to skip climbing it. We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the steps of the Duomo before heading over to the crypt which is to the left of the entrance of the Duomo. We expected the crypt to be a series of underground passageways, but to our surprise, we found that it was above ground and aside from some well preserved frescos on the walls, it was kind of plain. You could also buy tickets to go in the Baptistry and the Duomo itself, but we decided we had seen enough. On our walk back to the station, we spotted some orange trees loaded with oranges and a pretty carousel running. If it was Summer, you probably wouldn’t find me here, but we are so glad that we saw it on a very Spring-like day.