After indulging on yet more fantastic pizza and surveying the dizzying Duomo by night, we woke up early the next day to embark on a day trip to one of my favourite landmarks – the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were hoping for a double decker train to take us there but just missed it so had to settle for an ordinary one. The hour long journey cost around €14 for a return and it’s easy to buy a ticket on the day from one of Florence SMN train station’s many automatic ticket machines.
Last time, I’d based myself completely in Pisa and found it to be a very charming little town. It was certainly much quieter this time but, considering it’s home to such an iconic landmark, it doesn’t feel overly touristy in the town centre. The 30 minute walk from the train station to the tower was very leisurely and the town centre felt much like any other, only with a Vespa display on which was pretty cool.
It’s only when you turn the corner and see the wonky tower positioned behind all the ordinary buildings that you feel like you’re in Pisa. Even on a second visit, the quirky tower didn’t fail to impress. The big difference from my last visit was that selfie-mad tourists are no longer allowed to go on the grass surrounding the tower to get their Leaning Tower poses immortalised. That said, we did see a family sitting on a huge lawn tucking into a picnic and none of the nearby guards seemed bothered.
Last time, I’d climbed to the top of the tower but I think the whole charm of the Leaning Tower is to see it from the outside. It’s not so tall that you get amazing views of the city and once you’re on the top, you could be in any tower. I guess it’s nice to say you’ve climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa but I wouldn’t really say it’s worth the €18 entry fee. The whole Piazza dei Miracoli site makes for a great wander and it’s always fun to constantly turn round and check the tower is still there. It definitely leans more aggressively at certain angles. From some points of view, it almost looks like a regular tower with no incline.
There’s not a great deal else to do in Pisa but there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes dotted about and the pace of life here seems much more chilled than Florence. Alle Bandierine and Osteria i Santi are particularly good places for pasta. The cafes on the main street as you head back towards the train station make for a great people watching spot too.
The weather may have been soggier, but I had really loved coming back to this part of Tuscany. Even the most touristy sites felt quintessentially Italian and the pastel coloured buildings and great wholesome Italian food have given cities such as Florence and Pisa such a great identity. I’d definitely recommend making the day trip to Pisa, even if it is just to view the tower . There’s something really special about seeing an iconic building in the ‘flesh’ for the first time. For us, it was time to hop on a train and head for sunnier climes as we braved the Italian capital of Rome.