Pisa is a city in Tuscany, which is one of the most popular travel regions in Italy. Even though Pisa is quite small and does not have many sights to offer, it is still world famous. Who has not heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Still, the city has some more sights to offer than just the tower. That´s why I will show you a Pisa sightseeing tour in this post.
Pisa is especially well connected with Florence, Livorno or La Spezia. So I would recommend to do a day trip to Pisa when you´re visiting one of these cities anyway. In my opinion, one day is enough to explore Pisa and to see all important sights.
Piazza del Duomo
A Pisa sightseeing day should definitely start at the Piazza del Duomo, as this is where most of the main sights are located. Start early because the square will soon fill up with tourists.
The Piazza del Duomo is also called Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) and it is indeed a miraculous place. The individual buildings all belong to one church, divided into the Duomo, the bell tower (The Leaning Tower of Pisa), the Baptistery and the Cemetery.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The construction for the cathedral began in 1063. The front facade of the cathedral is decorated with a series of beautiful stone and marble arches. And don’t miss the three opulent bronze doors. Furthermore, the interior of the cathedral is absolutely magnificent and worth seeing.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
This is probably why you’re doing Pisa sightseeing in the first place. The tower was planned as a freestanding bell tower for the cathedral in Pisa. Twelve years after the construction started in 1173, when the building reached the third floor, the tower began to tilt. As a result, the construction was paused for about 100 years. After that the next four floors were built with a smaller angle of inclination to compensate the tilt. The tower was finally completed in 1372.
The reason for its inclination lies in the subsoil of loamy mud and sand, which deforms under the weight. The towers inclination is about four degrees. Inside the tower you will see a pendulum, which is fixed at the top in the middle of the tower. It almost touches the side wall due to the inclination at the bottom.
The 55-meter high and 12-meter diameter Campanile is made of 14,200 tons of white Carrara marble.
After 13 years of restoration work, it has been open for tourists again since December 2001. Visitors can climb the tower in small groups for a period of 15 minutes. Because of the strong limitation, I recommend to book tickets in advance or at least to buy them first after arrival. You will be given a certain time slot and can explore the square and the city until it is your turn to go up there.
The Baptistery also belongs to the Cathedral of Pisa. Construction for the free-standing building begun in 1152 as an addition to the cathedral. The building is 54 meters high and has a circumference of 107 meters.
The Camposanto Monumentale is a cemetery complex at the northern end of Piazza dei Miracoli. The cemetery is said to contain earth from the Holy Land. Legend has it that Archbishop Ubaldo de’ Lanfranchi has brought it back from his journey in 1203. The rectangular structure was begun in 1278 by Giovanni di Simone and was completed around 1358.
Piazza dei Cavalieri
The Piazza dei Cavalieri is a really nice place in the heart of Pisa. In former times, this was the center of the city. It is assumed that the Forum Romano of Pisa was also located here. Today, compared to Piazza del Duomo, it is a rather quiet and peaceful place.
Take a walk along the River Arno
The Arno is a 241 kilometer long river that also runs through Florence. This makes it the most important river in central Italy after the Tiber. The view along the river is particularly beautiful and a short walk is always worthwhile.
The Borgo Stretto district is a lively maze of alleys and shopping streets between Piazza dei Cavalieri and the Arno river. You shouldn’t miss this area when doing Pisa sightseeing. Borgo Stretto, lined with cafés and shops, opens out into Piazza Garibaldi and the Ponte di Mezzo bridge. This district is an ideal place for a stroll and if you’re looking for a nice restaurant.