Pisa is a quintessentially Italian city, with much more to offer to visitors than a leaning tower. Whether you are looking for great food and wine or something more cultural, Pisa can provide it. Most people are familiar with at least one of Pisa's many attractions.
The Leaning Tower has been an iconic sight in Europe for hundreds of years. Indeed, no Pisa city breaks would be complete without spending at least a brief time seeing the famous tower. It was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries and remains standing due to some complex physics.
The Leaning Tower is located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, where visitors can also enjoy seeing the town's Cathedral and Baptistry. Construction work on the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption began in 1604, when the power of the Maritime Republic was at its height. An appealing mix of architectural styles can be seen in its structure.
The Baptistry is an older building, with construction work on it beginning in the mid-12th century. This is the biggest baptistry in Italy, even though it was technically never finished. It is still a spectacular monument, though and when seen alongside the Tower and the Cathedral it creates a lasting and moving impression.
Anyone who flies into Pisa Airport (PSA) can also look forward to enjoying some great food and drink. Although many restaurants and bars cater for the tourist trade and can be a little commercial, it is still possible to find lovely family trattorias where you can enjoy a great meal.
Another advantage of Pisa is the transport links it enjoys. Beautiful Mediterranean beaches are within easy reach by both car and public transport, with the coastline just a few minutes away. The city also functions as a convenient gateway to access the beauties of Tuscany, where you can explore rolling hills covered with vineyards and inviting woodlands. Florence, with its Renaissance art and history, is within reach and Livorno on the coast can also be explored with relative ease.
Pisa has a Mediterranean climate and is therefore warm in the summer time. Average temperatures in July and August hover around the 29C mark. There is moderate rainfall in the spring and autumn, but temperatures remain in the 20C range from April until the beginning of October.
There are various events throughout the year in Pisa, adding to the vibrant cultural life of the city. The festival of Sant'Ubaldo takes place in May. This celebration centres upon the flower market at Viale Le Piagge.
By far the busiest month for city breaks to Pisa is June. The local saint, San Ranieri, is celebrated on the 16th and 17th of June each year. La Luminara di San Ranieri takes place on the 16th and involves decorating the streets with thousands of candles. There is then a street party which lasts all night and a fireworks display helps to add to the excitement.
On the 17th of June, it is San Ranieri's Day itself. The patron saint of Pisa is celebrated with a march through the streets and a huge open-air market.
An unusual local 'sport' can be seen on the last Sunday in June. The Gioco del Ponte is marked by teams from the different quarters of the city competing to see who can push a cart on to their rivals' side of the bridge. The catch is that they are only allowed to use the strength of their necks. As a result, you can see some pretty impressive physical specimens taking part.
If you are planning a trip to Pisa this year and need some help, read our fact file below and use TravelSupermarket's search tool to find the cheapest deals.
Romance:Enjoy a picnic on the grass by the Leaning Tower - choose the right time of day and this historic monument will provide the perfect shade for this romantic meal.
Shopping: The San Martino market quarter is packed with stalls full of delicious local produce such as infused olives, truffle oil and liquors. That's assuming you can see them among the stacks of miniature Leaning Towers!
Families: The restaurants surrounding the vibrant Piazza dei Cavalieri welcome youngsters and will make quite a fuss when it comes to ordering ice cream. But first, don't forget the home-made pasta and pizzas.
Trains and buses from Pisa Airport are frequent and inexpensive. Trains shuttle between the airport and the centre every half hour.
Buses take about 20 minutes into the centre of the city and depart every 10 minutes or so. Tickets for the colour-coded service (it's called LAM Rossa, or the “red line”, between the airport and the tower) cost around a euro and are available from automatic machines or newsagents and tobacconists, but make sure you purchase your ticket before you board.
Taxis are available outside the airport. However, journey times can vary hugely depending upon traffic. The drivers tend not to operate a fixed charge, but they are obliged to switch the meter on before the start of each journey.
On foot: Many of the things to see and do in compact Pisa are easily accessible on foot.
Public transport: Buses are efficient if you want to travel further afield.
Bike: A great option to get around the city is to hire a bike - they are inexpensive to hire and there's a choice of places to hire from.
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