A short stay in Pisa

Leaning Tower and Cathedral

This is the beginning of Via Francigena part 2 and Chris and I were excited to be back in Italy, one of our favourite countries for the second year running.

The Via Francigena (VF) is an ancient pilgrim route which starts in Canterbury in England and finishes in Rome.

Last year we walked 100 miles in 7 days from Bolsena to Rome and this year we are walking 84 miles in 6 days from Lucca to Siena. We chose this section as it is allegedly the most scenic as it passes through the Tuscany region of Italy.

Pisa is not part of the VF but we had arrived in Pisa during the afternoon and planned to stay for one night to explore the city.

Lively evenings in Pisa

Pisa is best known for its famous leaning tower however it also has a lively outdoor street culture which is frequented by locals rather than tourists.

I had remembered this from my previous visit to Pisa in December 2003 where I had the best ever pizza cooked in an open air pizza oven in Pisa!

Piazza dei Cavalieri

We arrived late in the afternoon following a 2 hour EasyJet flight from Luton airport. Pisa has no uber so we shared a taxi the short distance from Pisa airport to our accommodation with young couple who we met in the taxi queue who happened to be staying next door to us. The taxi cost was 20 euros between us.

Once we had checked in we set off to explore the city. We were in a good location in the heart of the Pisa about 10 minutes walk from the leaning tower, the star attraction.

We walked through pretty streets lined with restaurants as we made our way to the leaning tower which is located next to the cathedral.

Leaning Tower

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was completed in 1372 and was even leaning before it was completed! The 56 meter high tower is Romanesque style white marble. As they do, people were doing their best to create photos of themselves ‘pushing the tower straight’.

Piazza dei Miracoli
Front of the cathedral

The leaning tower, cathedral and baptistry are all located in Piazza dei Miracoli, a large square with restricted and unrestricted grassy areas.

Cathedral and leaning tower
San Giovanni Baptistry

Once we had finished looking around Piazza dei Miracoli (aka the ‘leaning tower piazza’) we ambled contentedly through the streets of Pisa and decided it was time for dinner.

Seafood pasta

As we neared a restaurant we liked the look of, a quick check of Google maps reviews confirmed the Il Peperoncino with its high score would be perfect for the first meal of our holiday. And perfect it was. A pizza for Chris and seafood pasta for me together with a carafe of Montepulciano. And finished off with a shot lemoncello each 🍋

Our friendly Il Peperoncino restaurant owner

After dinner we walked through the busy atmospheric streets with people sitting outside in the warm evening air and headed towards the leaning tower to have one more look.

We arrived just in time to see the sun setting behind the San Giovanni Baptistry.

Piazza dei Cavalieri

The following morning…

After a typically Italian breakfast of croissants, cake, toast and coffee we checked out of our accommodation leaving our luggage in the small reception and had another walk around the streets of Pisa. We were given a ziploc bag of croissants to take with us by the lovely lady at the reception desk.

Piazza Garibaldi

Guiseppe Garibaldi was a revolutionary who fought for the independence of Italy in 1861 and there is a statue of him in Piazza Garibaldi close to the river.

Arno River

We walked across a bridge over the River Arno with its picturesque colourful buildings on either side.

Following a macchiato each in an open air pavement cafe we collected our luggage and walked to Pisa Centrale train station.

Walking to the station

Unfortunately the outer plastic casing of our joint case had split that morning so we had to stop in an en-route luggage shop to buy a strap to hold the case together.

We purchased our tickets for the direct train to Lucca from one of several ticket machines at the station. A really simple process with instructions in English. You just need to remember to validate your ticket in one of the white and green machines before boarding the train.

San Giovanni Baptistry


Pisa is compact, in close proximity to its airport and in my view, unless you wish to spend time in museums or other places of interest you can see the main sights in a couple of hours. Choosing to stay for just one night was the perfect introduction to our Tuscany holiday.

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