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Pisa is perhaps best known for its famous Leaning Tower, but beyond this lop-sided wonder, the city offers plenty to see. On arrival in Pisa, you will find that it is an ideal base from which to explore Italy's eastern coast and to utilise as a base to see the sights of the rest of Tuscany, such as Siena and Florence.
With its iconic sights, stunning architecture, and easy access to the rest of beautiful Tuscany, holidays here will have visitors captivated...
You cannot miss the Leaning Tower itself, part of the Piazza dei Miracoli, a place that is likely to become thronged with tourists at any time of year. Famed not only for its tilt but for its Romanesque design, created by Bonanno and finished by Giovanni di Simone. There is a bell-chamber to see, while nearby the Duomo is the biggest church in the Romanesque tradition in the region. The Duomo features a 68-column basilica and noted pulpit, while the baptistery is again a feat, being the largest of its kind in the country.
As you head out of Pisa itself, a whole world opens up around you. The Tuscan hills are ideal places to walk or cycle and you can spend whole days enjoying the views of rolling hills and pine forests or looking over into nearby towns. If you would prefer to drive, you could hire a car and use the accessible road network in this region to get about instead, maybe stopping at charming Tuscan villages en route to larger destinations.
One such destination could be Pistoia, a medieval town that has an ancient importance, being a royal Lombardic city and a free commune over the course of its illustrious history. Today the town is known for its gardens and flower markets.
Florence is typically on the checklist of many visitors to Italy, who venture to this attractive city to see art galleries such as the Uffizi, grand works of architecture such as the city's Duomo or Gitto's Bell Tower, or bustling squares such as the Palazzo Vecchio. Among the highlights of a trip into Florence are the masterpieces of art, with statues and sculptures cropping up everywhere, while others will be impressed by Renaissance frescos and just the mere sight of the views over the Arno River.
Another medieval town, Siena is best known for its yearly horse race, the Palio, which sees a frenetic equine dash across the Piazza del Campo. Jockeys, mounts and spectators all jostle for space and the event means that accommodation in Siena gets extremely packed; best book in advance if you want to see this. Getting a flight to Pisa does mean you can then go on to visit Siena in more peaceful times and explore the town's medieval palaces.
Hop across to Arezzo for wealthy sights and hillside views. This is another Tuscan city that dates back to ancient times and visitors will find evidence of both Palaeolithic and medieval life here. Visit the Church of San Francesco and the Medicean Fortress for the tourist hotspots here, while you will find historic architecture and stunning frescos too.
Meanwhile in Fiesole, you will find evidence of the Etruscan civilisation alongside some dramatic ruins, such as parts of the city walls and abandoned temples. Those interested in the life and times of the Ancient Romans will find plenty to amaze them here, as visitors can explore remnants of the Roman city such as theatres and baths. Another Etruscan settlement that still attracts tourists today is San Gimignano, which, like many other places in the region, shows its medieval influences today through the towers around the town, which once numbered 72 but are now reduced to 15.
Still on the coast, try Livorno for a port that is full of tasty dishes to sample, impressive buildings to see and promenades to stroll along.
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