The Tuscan city of Pisa is much more than a building gone wrong. While the Leaning Tower attracts swarms of visitors, those who drag themselves away from the striking landmark will find an abundance of Italian charm in the streets, squares, restaurants and bars of this lively student town.
Situated on the River Arno in central Italy, Pisa has the glorious countryside of Tuscany on its doorstep. Undulating slopes packed with lush vineyards and cypress trees stretch towards the horizon, which is peppered with romantic castles and luxury villas. You could also combine a trip to Pisa with a visit to nearby Florence, home to some of Italy's most prized art collections.
Hotels in Pisa are somewhat thin on the ground for a city of its size, perhaps a side effect of the destination being so popular with day-trippers. There are some excellent options though, with a number of four- and five-star hotels crammed lovingly into the towering buildings that line the city centre streets. Most hotels are locally owned and managed, however you will find brands names such as Golden Tulip, NH Hoteles and AC Hotels by Marriott in the city.
As the attractions of Pisa are packed into the easily navigable and compact centre, you may prefer to stay in central Pisa hotels.
However, budget hotels are easier to find in the suburbs and on the outskirts of the city, where you'll find charming guesthouses, modern boutique-style hotels, and everything in between. Just don't leave it too late to get back to your hotel after an evening in central Pisa, as taxis and late-night buses can be hard to come by.
And book early to avoid disappointment in June, when Pisa's events calendar is at its busiest.
Top five attractions
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Perhaps one of the world's most photographed buildings - the 294 steps up the tower are not for the faint hearted.
Piazza dei Miracoli
Surrounded by four of Pisa's great sights, this grassy square is an ideal spot for a romantic picnic in the sun.
An elegant and unique space built upon sacred earth that was brought back from Crusades a thousand years ago and surrounded by a Gothic building.
Work on this architectural masterpiece began in 1063, and didn't finish until 200 years later. Make sure you go inside - the interior is even more impressive than the jaw-dropping exterior.
Its gently rolling hills are the backdrop to a million paintings, but nothing can quite compare to the real thing.
Gioco del Ponte; June: The north-south debate is annually settled on the last Sunday of June as costumed teams from either side of the river attempt to push a seven-tonne cart across the Ponte di Mezzo (Middle Bridge). This remarkable spectacle dates back to mediaeval times and can go on all night.
Luminara di San Ranieri; June: Every year on June 16, Pisa is transformed into a fairy-tale land where every building is adorned with lights and locals parade the streets with oil lamps. Don't miss the floating candles or the fireworks display.
Regata Storica di San Ranieri; June: This hugely colourful rowing competition is staged each year to honour Pisa's patron saint. Once the winners are crowned, the celebrations begin in Pisa's packed bars and restaurants.