Planning a trip to Italy and wondering if Pisa is worth visiting? The answer is maybe. Here are a few things to consider when deciding if Pisa is suitable for your trip to Italy.
To decide for yourself if seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa is worth it, answer the following questions. Then see which you said more, yes or no.
Is Pisa Italy Worth Visiting?
- Will you get a chance to visit Italy more than once?
- Do you have more than 10 days in Italy?
- Will you be driving in Italy?
- Is architecture or historical buildings why you’re traveling to Italy?
- Are you comfortable in crowds?
Still not sure? Here are a few more points to consider.
- What region of Italy will you be spending time in? If you will be spending several days in Tuscany, Pisa can make for an enjoyable half-day stop. To illustrate what that might feel like, I’ve included our story of stopping to see Pisa on a road trip through Tuscany below.
- Will you have flexibility with your travel itinerary in Italy? If you’ll be driving or have a private guide while you’re in Italy then that flexibility will help in deciding if visiting Pisa is worth it. I say that because the weather plays a big part in enjoying a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Most of your visit will be outdoors. So if you’re on the fence about visiting Pisa and the forecast calls for rain, you’ll have more fun in Siena or San Gimignano while in Tuscany.
- What gives you the fondest memories when you travel? If you love to have photos to show friends and family, Pisa is pretty photogenic! However, if you find yourself reminiscing about “that great meal” or “that great bottle of wine with a view” you might consider a half-day trip to an Agriturismo in Tuscany instead.
Still not sure? Explore hidden gems and popular Italian destinations to decide if a visit to Pisa is worth it for you.
Our Last Minute Stop in Pisa, Italy
So there we were, driving back to Torino after our winter holiday in Tuscany. While driving, Paolo reads a passing road sign out loud, “Pisa. Oh yeah, we’re in Pisa now.” “Pisa. As in Pisa, Pisa. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa.” I asked. Paolo, ever so casual about the charms of his country “Do you want to stop and see Pisa before lunch?” Me, “Uhm, YES!”
Coming from America, I know how ridiculous this sounds. To be “just passing by” and casually deciding to make a last-minute stop to see, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You know, on the way to lunch. That is, however, exactly what happened. True story.
As we drove into town, Paolo warned “In Italy, Pisa is not known as a beautiful city. It’s really just the tower.” I didn’t care. There was no way I was passing up a chance to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
After passing the train station and local Pam grocery store on Viale delle Cascine, I turned my head and exclaimed, “There it is!”
Sure enough, a gleaming tower leaned in the distance, against a bright blue sky. Paolo had not seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa since his boyhood days in Italy. A lot had changed.
Restorations completed in 2014 had brought the original luster back to Pisa. Just in time for the 450th Birthday of its native Pisan, Galileo.
Parking Near the Leaning Tower of Pisa
It’s not only entirely possible to stop last minute to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it’s also easy to park nearby. We found an open spot quickly at Parcheggio di Piazza dei Miracoli, just a seven-minute walk away.
Before exiting the parking lot, we stopped at a ticket machine. A plastic green coin rolled out, the likes of which we’d never seen in Italy. Clunk. We began to wonder if this last-minute stop was a mistake. We had no way of knowing what the parking would cost. If there were long lines, pricey admission, or swarms of tourists ahead. Would this stop mean missing the romantic lakeside lunch reservation Paolo had made just that morning?
After a brief pause looking down at that green coin, Paolo said “screw it, we’re here, let’s go!”
Hand and hand we dashed out of the parking lot onto the sidewalk, laughing like high schoolers playing hooky. This wasn’t on the agenda. We didn’t have much time before our lunch reservation, run!
Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa
You can take a train to the Pisa S. Rossore stop, or hop on a tour bus to get to The Leaning Tower of Pisa but we were on foot and moving fast.
Rounding the corner onto bus-lined Giovanni Battista Niccolini, Paolo expertly weaved us through the souvenir market at Porta Nuova. As we breached the medieval gateway, the expansive green lawn of Piazza del Duomo opened up in front of us.
Peaking out from behind the Romanesque grand Cattedrale di Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa reclined in her classic pose as tourists pretended to hold her up for a picture. Our burst of spontaneity had spurred us into tourist mode. We both took a pose of our own. Mine an attempt to lean in for a kiss.
Paolo’s keeping Pisa up with his head.
The beauty of Piazza Dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is undeniable. As we took a moment to soak up the magic of our impromptu stop, Paolo filled me in on why the Leaning Tower of Pisa, leans.
Facts About The Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1173 and stood upright for five years before it started to lean. Built on clay not fit to support the weight, Italians had hoped it would settle safely.
Between waiting to see and wars, construction stopped for nearly 100 years.
In 1964 complex counterweights were put in place to prevent collapse but keep lean. Then in 1987, the Leaning Tower of Pisa became a UNESCO world heritage site.
What to See in Pisa
We didn’t have the time to stop and see all the sights that day. The clock was ticking on our nearby lunch reservation.
As we walked back across Piazza Dei Miracoli, Paolo pointed out the the Fontana dei Putti, the Palazzo dell’Opera and the Battistero di San Giovanni. All gleaming white after their renovations. All easy to see if you only have a short time to stop in Pisa.
If you have a little more time than half a day, here is a list of the Top 10 things to see in Pisa, Italy.
To Sum Up Our Stop in Pisa
At the end of the day, we were only twenty minutes late for our lunch reservation. There were tourists, but no lines or tickets were needed just to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and take a few pictures. The parking was only 4€.
After our lunch by lake Massaciuccoli, we got back on the road to get home before nightfall. The drive gave me time to express my gratitude towards Paolo.
He humors my travel whims with laughter and tries his best to show me, as much of Italy as he can. Paolo is a scholar with a mind for history, a passion for art, and the heart of a wonderful husband.