Pisa’s famous leaning tower (the campanile of the adjacent Duomo) is part of the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the Duomo, baptistery and cemetery. Begun in 1173, the tower began to lean almost immediately thanks to soil subsidence. To try to halt the tilt, cables and counterweights have been inserted. A spiral staircase with nearly 300 steps leads to the top of this unique, iconic building.
It's Not Really Leaning...You've Had Too Much Wine.
There aren’t many places that say Italy like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Ask any kid under 8. It is so common it is almost a cliche. But to walk on the Piazza de Miracoli and see the Leaning Tower (and the leaning baptistry too) really takes your breath away. Unfortunately for Pisa, it is often upstaged by its glamorous cousin to the east, Florence. However Pisa is well worth the visit and easy to get to. There is a cost involved for the museum, tower and baptistry. While the church is free, you do need to obtain a ticket to enter. We had the good fortune of having a University of Pisa student and native Pisano as our guide through the piazza and city. Florence may be more famous, but Pisa is more loved by its locals.
To see the Leaning Tower, please get there in the morning, as by the afternoon all the Tour Buses show up with tons of tourists. So if you doing Pisa/Florence all in the same day, please visit Pisa first, then travel to beautiful Florence later.
Fresh Out of the Oven
I wish I could say I knew the name of this spot, or how to find it, but I happened upon it late one night on an empty stomach, wandering around Pisa looking for a different restaurant. I stopped in here to ask for directions, and soon realized I was where I should be. Out back, the garden was filled with Italian-speaking locals eating gooey, cheesy pies served immediately upon being taken from the oven. So hot you should resist, lest you burn the roof of your mouth; but so tasty and enticing you just can’t wait. Worth the burn.
Just Be a Tourist
I like to consider myself the type that strays off the beaten path, a guy that shuns away from the typical tourist traps, but when I was riding the train to Florence I noticed that Pisa was conveniently on the way (I was coming from Nice, France). I wouldn’t recommend that someone go completely out of their way to visit Pisa, but if it’s on the way then why the hell not? Pisa is nice enough and a great place to spend a half-day, which is plenty of time to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. And yes, I did ask someone to take a photo of me with the tower in the background! I like being a tourist!
Everything leans a little in Pisa!
One of the truths you learn in visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is that everything leans in this area of Pisa...!
I spent part of my childhood in an Italian restaurant as my grandparents owned a restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ.....before Scottsdale became the cosmopolitan desert destination we know today. I remember being fascinated by the image of the Leaning Tower that appeared on the menus and their business cards. Seeing the Tower captured one of my favorite parts of travel - the magic of seeing a place I only saw on maps, menus and TV as a child and being blown away by its wonder in person!