Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, that is best known for its world famous Leaning Tower. But the Tower isn't the only thing to see – there are other architectural and artistic marvels in this beautiful city. The half-hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to the train station runs through a pedestrian street with many interesting sights, shops, and restaurants. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets, as the city centre is very small, and enjoy the sight and the atmosphere.
Pisa would not be Pisa without the University. The city is animated by the students, who organize parties, shows, and cultural events, and fill the central street of the city at night. The University of Pisa has 60,000 students in a city of 90,000 inhabitants (200,000 in the metropolitan area). You'll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the touristy Campo dei Miracoli.
1 Pisa Centrale is the main train station of Pisa. Rome to Genova trains stop at Pisa Centrale. If you are planning an in-route visit to Pisa, it is also convenient since Pisa Centrale has Left Luggage service open from 06:00-21:00. Each baggage deposited costs €3 for 12 hr. Otherwise, if you are in the city just to see the Leaning Tower, you could also get down at the 2 Pisa S. Rossore train station which is much closer to the tower. Do check the train schedule, as not all trains stop there. However there are regional trains to Florence every hour at the 46th minute (as of 9 July 2012).
3 Pisa International Airport (PSA IATA Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport). Open 4 AM till the last arrival/departure flight. This is the main airport of Tuscany and is served by several airlines operating hundreds of weekly flights to national and international destinations. Numerous companies offer charter flights to and from a number of European and non-European destinations. Flying to Pisa is really cheap and easy: the most recognized low-cost airlines serve Pisa. The airport is close to the city centre (about 1 km) - it takes only a few minutes to reach the centre by bus, train or taxi. The airport is also within easy walking distance of the centre, which takes around 20 min.
The light rail system (called PisaMover) links the airport to Pisa Centrale station, the service runs daily from 06:00 in the morning to midnight at five to eight minute intervals, with the trip taking 5 minutes. Of less interest to tourists is a third station between the two, this serves a long stay carpark for those using the airport. Tickets are bought from self service ticket machines with the fare being €2.70 for a single ticket and €5.40 for a return.
Since the summer of 2017, the city bus lines do not travel all the way to the airport anymore. On the other hand, unlike the light rail system which stops only at the train station, the same bus ticket (and maybe even the same bus) can be used to travel around further in the city. Buses (LAM verde, or green line) stop at Pardi (a 5-10 minute walk from the airport) every 10 minutes on working days, from 6 to 21, and every 15 minutes on Sundays, from 7:30 to 21. Evening buses (Line 21) stop slightly further away, at Dell'Aeroporto 2, every 30 minutes between 21 and 23. There is no bus service after 23. Further information and exact times can be found on the website of the bus company.
You can purchase bus tickets from the information desk in the arrivals hall. A single ticket costs €1.20; four-ticket packs cost €4 and ten-ticket packs cost €9 (and they can be used concurrently by more than one person). Single tickets can be purchased also directly from the bus driver for €2.
If you prefer a more convenient method of travel, a taxi to the city centre will cost around €6-10 (plus a €2.55 surcharge on Sundays, bank holidays and at night between 22:00 and 06:00).
One of the most convenient ways to arrive in Pisa is by carpooling, . You can split the costs and make the journey cheaper.
Driving in the city centre is not recommended. Nearly every street is narrow and one-way, parking spots are almost non-existent, and there many restricted traffic areas (called ZTL, Zone a traffico limitato). Be particularly alert since it is easy to enter restricted traffic areas inadvertently; there are cameras at the entrances, so it is almost guaranteed that you will get a fine, possibly delivered by mail months later.
Fortunately, the city is small enough to easily go on foot everywhere and if you are lazy to walk, buses are frequent.
However, renting a car can be a good choice if you want to go around Tuscany from Pisa. To get to the car rental offices take the shuttle bus in front of the airport's arrival hall to the right, close to the city bus stop.
WARNING: Unfortunately, LAM Rossa no longer links the airport to the station and the rest of the city. You have to take the PisaMover instead. See section below.
There are regular buses on the daytime around town, including from the train station to the Field of Miracles (LAM rossa, red line). Attractions are within a half hour walk of each other. Local bus tickets are available at tobacco shops; there are also vending machines both at the station and the airport.
The buses become less frequent after 9pm and the service stops completely at about 11-11:30pm, so do not count on them if you are out partying for the night.
There are two types of buses in Pisa: LAM buses (frequent lines, every 10 minutes) and regular lines (marked with numbers, every ten minutes). The price of the ticket is the same: 1,40€ for a single ticket, 5.00€ for five tickets and 9.00€ for ten tickets. Each ticket is valid for 70 minutes. Tickets must be validated inside the bus.
LAM ROSSA (red line) links the train station to the Field of Miracles (stop at Piazza dei miracoli) and the city centre (stop at the riverside Lungarno Pacinotti 2). This is the main bus in town and probably the only one you will need.
By people mover
To get from the airport to the station and viceversa, you have to take the PisaMover. It is avaiable every day, every 5 minutes, from 6.00 AM to midnight. There are directions both inside the station and the airport. It is expensive (2,70€ for a 5 minutes ride), but it is recommended if it is your first time to the city and you are not familiar with the local public transport.
Monuments and museums
Pisa is divided into 4 historical quarters. There is much more than the Leaning Tower in the city and several different walking itineraries are available.
- The Piazza dei Miracoli [dead link] or Field of Miracles is to the north of central Pisa. It's an UNESCO World Heritage site and contains the city's most famous sights:
- 1 Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), Piazza Arcivescovado 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su 09:00-20:00. The structure was conceived as the cathedral's bell tower. Construction began in 1173 and the tower started leaning soon afterwards due to subsidence of the ground underneath its base. A project to keep the tower from leaning more and tipping over finally reached a successful conclusion in 2001, and the tower is again open to those wishing to climb it. Climbing the tower requires a reservation-based ticket for €18. Tickets can be bought for the tower on the day, for a specific entry time. This could be 45 min-2 hr after the purchase time, but there is a lot to see while you wait. It is better if you buy tickets online for €18 well in advance (up to 20 days). The tickets are non-exchangeable, effectively non-refundable, and only good for the tower, so they're a bit of a risk to purchase in advance. Make the effort to climb, though, and you'll be rewarded by the view. Curiosity: the famous Pisa leaning tower is not the only one, due of the marshy land that they are built on, there are other 2 towers in Pisa: the Bell Tower of San Nicola Church, near the banks of Arno and the Bell Tower of San Michele of Scalzi Church. For safety reasons, children who will not have turned 8 by the end of this year are not permitted to enter. Under-18s must be accompanied by an adult. ID may be requested to certify the age. €18.
- 2 [dead link]Duomo di Pisa (Pisa Cathedral). A splendid cathedral, containing artwork by Giambologna, Della Robbia, and other major artists. Fine Romanesque style with double aisles and a cupola, a huge apse mosaic partly by Cimabue, and a fine pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in late Gothic/early Renaissance style. Free (a maximum of two coupons per person).
- 3 [dead link]Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John). Large round Romanesque dome with many sculptured decorations and a fine view up top; climb this if you want a great view with the Leaning Tower visible in your photos. Arabic-style pavement, pulpit by Nicola Pisano (father of Giovanni), and fine octagonal font. At regular intervals, the ticket-checker-guard at the entrance comes into the baptistery and gives an audio-treat of echo-effect. The guard shouts out few sounds which when echoed sound like pure beautiful music. You can also cast your inhibitions to the wind, stand by the wall, and sing long notes that turn into chords by yourself, as the echoes go round and round the dome of the building. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Monumental Cemetery and the Sinopie Museum.
- 4 [dead link]Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). A huge cemetery building with lots of interesting art, including a collection of ancient Roman sarcophagi and splendid medieval frescoes by the "Master of the Triumph of Death". There is also a 19th century statue of the famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, a native of the city. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Sinopie Museum. Free entrance to the cemetery on 1 and 2 Nov.
- 5 Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Has sculptures and paintings formerly preserved in the Cathedral and the cemetery. Some of the more unusual are bronze griffins from Syria captured by the Crusaders. You can also capture nice photos from the Tower and the Duomo from its balcony.
- 6 Museo delle Sinopie. Skipped over by many visitors, this museum is a treat for art lovers. After World War II many of the surviving murals and pieces of murals from Pisa's Campo Santo were detached from the walls to try to preserve them. It was unexpectedly discovered that the artist sketches underneath survived. These were moved to this museum. Single ticket €5. A combined ticket with two museums is €7 and three museums is €8. It can be combined with the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery.
- 7 Piazza dei Cavalieri. A small town square with many historical buildings that hosted the political powers of the city in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but most of them are not accessible to tourists, as they are now property of the University of Pisa or Scuola Normale Superiore (a prestigious elitary school).
- 8 Palazzo della Carovana. The main Scuola Normale Superiore building, with an elaborate façade, by the important Italian Renaissance artist and architect Giorgio Vasari - who is also said to be the first historian of art.
- 9 Palazzo dell'Orologio (Clock Palace). A 14th century building that has replaced the Torre della Fame (tower of hunger), where the Conte Ugolino della Gherardesca was imprisoned and left to die of hunger with his sons, as cited in the Dante's Divina Commedia.
- 10 Chiesa di Santo Stefano. Designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century for the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano (Order of Chivalry of Saint Stephan), a chivalry order founded to fight piracy in 1561.
- Other historical buildings include the Church of San Rocco, the Rectory, Palazzo Carovana and Palazzo dei Dodici.
- Lungarno Mediceo and Lungarno Pacinotti on the north side of Arno river, Lungarno Galilei and Lungarno Gambacorti on the south side: these riverside streets give a distinctive character to Pisa, especially at night when the lamplight reflects on the Arno river. Along the Lungarni stands interesting places like:
- 11 Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Piazza San Matteo, 1, lungarno Mediceo, ☎ . This is a fantastic history and art museum, which houses almost all of the original artwork from all the churches in and around Pisa. Although fairly small, it is one of the biggest for Tuscan Renaissance art, hosted in the rooms of the San Matteo monastery. A gem overlooked by most tourists.
- 12 Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza XX Settembre. Two opposing town square, one at each end of Ponte di Mezzo (middle bridge), and are considered the centre of the city. From Piazza Garibaldi starts Borgo Stretto, an old street with lots of shops that, together with Corso Italia starting in the opposite direction from Piazza XX Settembre, create a pedestrian area (interrupted only by the bridge) that is considered the centre of the city. In Piazza XX Settembre you can find the Logge dei Banchi, a building created to host textile market in 1600, and the town hall, in the Palazzo del Comune.
- 13 Santo Sepolcro (on Lungarno Galilei). A Romanesque octagonal church with conical spire by Diotisalvi, who also built the baptistry - a Templar church, striking and forceful. Usually is not open to the public.
- Ussero Café founded on 1775, lungarno Pacinotti 27. A monument to Italian culture in the 1400s Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. In 1839, it was seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
- 14 Santa Maria della Spina (on Lungarno Gambacorti). A very small Gothic church built in 1230 to house a thorn from Jesus's crown, it's considered one of the best expressions of Italian Gothic. It is so small that in 1800, it was moved from the Arno riverbank to a place some metres higher, one stone at time, to protect it from flooding. It's usually not open to the public.
- 15 Giardino Scotto (on Lungarno Fibonacci at the end of Lungarno Galilei). A fortress converted to a public park which opens in summer for open air cinema, music shows and other events.
- 16 La Cittadella (at the end of Lungarno Simonelli). A fortress built to guard the access by the river Arno and the shipyard in the middle age, when the sea was closer to the city.
- 17 University Botanical Garden (Orto botanico), via Luca Ghini 5. Open M-F mornings. The first university botanical garden in Europe, created by the will of Cosimo de' Medici in 1544. Free.
- 18 Museum of Computing Instruments (Museo degli strumenti per il calcolo), via Bonanno Pisano 2/B (The entrance, particularly hard to find, is at the end of a small alley departing from a parking area in Via Bonanno Pisano.), ☎ . M 09:00-13:00, Tu-F 09:00-17:00. This museum hosts artifacts from the history of computers, including Italy's oldest computer built in the end of the 1950s, and a collection of mechanical calculators from the early 1900s. €2.50.
- 19 Tuttomondo. Keith Haring mural. Keith Haring visited Pisa and fell in love with the town, so he decided to paint this amazing mural as a gift to Pisa. Though extremely large, it is easy to miss so look out for it; it is located between via Giuseppe Mazzini and via Massimo D'Azeglio just off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
- Fine Romanesque churches, San Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, San Michele in Borgo, San Paolo with a sculpture gallery inside, Sant'Andrea - not all are open every day; double-check the hours if you want to visit.
When you have done the main attractions of Pisa, there is still one little gem left: Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea. It hosts a beach, not with sand, but with little marble pebbles. The pebbles are smooth, and will not harm your feet, but since they are slightly unstable near the water, sea water compatible footwear is recommended for walking along the beach and getting in or out of the water.
- Take a photo of yourself holding, leaning against, or "anthropologically appropriating" the leaning tower of Pisa.
- Take a stroll along the central shopping roads of the city, Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto, both pedestrian-only.
- Enjoy an aperitivo (evening drink with a light dinner buffet) in one of the many bars and pubs that offer it, around Piazza Gambacorti, Piazza delle Vettovaglie o Via delle Case Dipinte.
- On June 16th Pisa holds the Luminara festival, held for the patron saint's day (San Ranieri). At sunset, all the lights along the Arno are dimmed and more than 10,000 candles are lit, which makes for some spectacular sights from the Ponte di Mezzo. Various activities are organized in the streets and the night ends with a big fireworks.
- Another summer attraction is the Gioco del Ponte (Game of Bridge), a historical manifestation held yearly on the last Sunday of June, in which the two sides of the city (Tramontana and Mezzogiorno, geographically split by the Arno river) participate in a historical procession, with 709 walk-ons, then challenge each other to a physical match in which their teams, each composed of 20 members, try to conquer the "Ponte di Mezzo" (the main bridge in Pisa) by pushing a trolley in order to force the rival team off the bridge.
- On March 25th a smaller historical procession takes place, to celebrate the traditional Pisan new year.
- Festival Internazionale di Musica Sacra - International Sacred Music Festival "Anima Mundi" takes place for two weeks in September of each year. This event, organized since 2001, is one of most important of its kind, both on national and international level.
For nightlife, there aren't many clubs or live music places in Pisa: the usual night in Pisa is having a dinner of pizza or a cheap kebab, having a beer in Borgo Stretto, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, Piazza Gambacorti or a pub in the surrounding areas, and having a walk in Piazza Garibaldi, Piazza dei Cavalieri or the Lungarni, where the spallette (the low brick walls around the river) are full of students.
Some alternative clubs (hard rock, alternative, funky, jazz) in the centre are:
Less alternative clubs are found at the seaside, about 8 km from Pisa, in Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia. For instance
- Pappafico (a disco with house music and the like)
- PIA (a disco/bar on the sea)
- Sunset (mainly an aperitiv/happy hour/chill-out location on the sea)
- Casciana Terme. The thermal water has been used at Casciana Terme since ancient times. Its applications have been extended to modern rehabilitation therapies, cardiovascular and respiratory treatment, in the improvement of the digestive functions and their treatment, because its natural, relaxing action enables patients to regain their functional equilibrium and the enjoyment of pleasures they had lost.
- San Giuliano Terme. Water with beneficial effects and calciferous magnesic sulfate water, naturally rich in vital curative elements, gush forth at the foot of Mount San Giuliano at the Spa out of different springs and are gathered in two groups called the "East Baths" (40°C) and the "West Baths" (38°C).
- Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna), P.zza Martiri della Libertà, 33. Special-statute public university, emerging from Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and operating in the field of applied sciences. (Superior Graduate Schools in Italy, i.e. Scuola Superiore Universitaria)
- Scuola Normale (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7. Was founded in 1810, by a Napoleonic decree as a branch of the École Normale Supérieure of Paris. Recognized as a "national university" in 1862, one year after Italian unification, and named during that period as "Normal School of the Kingdom of Italy". (Superior Graduate Schools in Italy, i.e. Scuola Superiore Universitaria)
- University of Pisa (Università di Pisa), Lungarno Pacinotti, 43. One of the oldest universities in Italy. Formally founded on September 3, 1343 by an edict of Pope Clement VI, although there had been lectures on law in Pisa since the 11th century. The university has Europe's oldest academic botanical garden, i.e. Orto botanico di Pisa, founded 1544.
The central shopping area is centred around the Corso Italia, between the railway station and the Ponte di Mezzo (the central bridge) and also in the Via Borgo Stretto, north of the bridge. However, many specialized shops are sprinkled around the city.
The area around the leaning tower is geared toward tourists: There are lots of small souvenir kiosks, stands and "flying merchants", selling all kinds of souvenirs from small statues to hour-glasses - of course the general motif is the leaning tower.
Beware: it is an offense to buy from one of the "flying merchants" that sell fake replicas. They are very persuasive and if you buy anything you must haggle – they'll drop their prices significantly.
Every two weeks there is a bazaar with quite cheap books, records and old household items.
And don't forget to try some of Pisa's famous biscotti (biscuits or cookies). Bakeries all through town will sell multiple varieties, for a low price.
For the budget option, if coming from the Airport, there is a Coop supermarket on the left, on Via Pasquale Pardi.
Pasta and pizza are among the tourists' favorites like everywhere in Italy, but Tuscan and Pisan cuisine has more to offer: several kinds of soups made with bread (for instance, bordatino, with kale), meat dishes (chianina and mucco pisano are renowned beef breeds; game such as boar or hare can be found in many restaurants), and cold cuts. The traditional street food is cecina, a chickpea flour pancake, served inside focaccia with a sprinkle of pepper.
Traditional Tuscan bread is made without salt (pane sciocco); this surprises most tourists.
As for alcoholic beverages, Tuscany is renowned mainly for red wine, but nowadays many establishments also offer a good selection of local craft beers.
If you have access to transport, an alternative to eating in Pisa is to take the relatively short drive to Marina di Pisa, the harbor of Pisa at the Mediterranean sea some 15 km from central Pisa. Just follow the SS224 road west on the south side of River Arno and you are there in 20 minutes. There are several restaurants by the seafront, and having your dinner here, outside and when the sun sets in the west, is a rewarding experience. Parking and tables may be out if you arrive late, so check the opening hours (many restaurants do not open until around 19.00) and be there early. Even better, spend an hour or two just walking along the beach before the restaurants open. Try Roca de Mar.
Finally, there's a good pizzeria near the Youth Hostel, too, on the road that leads to the Leclerc, on the left then you must go in the tunnel.
As a general rule, try not to eat near the Leaning Tower where prices are high and quality low. Head instead to the central area (5-10 minutes walking from Piazza dei Miracoli): you can find very good, cheap restaurants there. For example, there are excellent, friendly and reasonably priced cafeterias in the busy small vegetable market, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Also Via San Martino, close to the south bank of the river, offers some places with good quality and low price.
This said, near the Leaning Tower, in via Roma, there's a good Indian Restaurant, with a beautiful atmosphere and really good, though not always cheap, dishes. In Piazza dei Miracoli, there's a quite good restaurant-pizzeria, cheap enough, the Kinzica.
- Il Montino, Via del Monte. Great place to get fine pizza by the slice and excellent focaccine. You can eat there or grab your food to go.
- Numero 11, 47-49, Via San Martino. Generous portions in an informal setting.
- Ristorante Al Madina, Via S. Martino, 41/45, Lebanese and Syrian kitchen. Serves a small selection of dishes made freshly. both classics (Shawarma, Kebap, Falafel, Baba Ghannug) and more elaborate dishes. Vegetarian options. Their excellent home-made Hummus and bread is a save-the-day for vegan travellers. The seating is informal, just as in the neighbouring Numero 11.
- La Ghiotteria, Vicolo delle Donzelle, 9/11, basically at Piazza Garibaldi. Students' favorite pasta spot. Huge portions for cheap prices.
- Bar Pizzeria Moonlight, Via S. Lorenzo, 52,. Just a few meters off the main tourist route, a small pizzeria mainly serving lunch to locals. Small but good selection of daily lunch dishes, from classical pasta to summer time favorites such as swordfish. Large selection of pizza, including a couple of signature dishes - try out Pizza "lui e lei" (him and her).
- La Lupa Ghiotta, Viale francesco bonaini, 113 (from the station walk towards Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, than turn right in Viale Francesco Bonaini), ☎ . Has very good food in a cozy environment.
- 1 NamasteIndia Ristorante (NamasteIndia Ristorante Indiano), Via S.Bernardo, 34 (Crossing Street to Corso Italia), ☎ . 13:00-01:00. Authentic typical Indian food. 5 minute walk from railway station.
- Osteria di Culegna, Via Mercanti (on the main road). Good food and research of the Tuscan typical recipes, nice and smiley service. Closed on Sunday.
- Pizzeria Tavola Calda La Tana, V. San Frediano. 12:00-15:00 and 19:00 onwards. This is a restaurant frequented by locals. The food is good and reasonably priced compared to other restaurants in Pisa. Staff welcome all the locals and pamper the tourists.
- Pizzeria La Tombola, Great authentic spot for Naples-style pizza and beer. A local's favorite.
- Pizzeria L'Arancio, Via l'Arancio 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 12:00-15:30, 19:00-22:00. Affordable pizzeria which also serves good foccacia. Relaxed student-like atmosphere.
- Pizzeria Il Fornaccio, Via Luigi Bianchi, 33 (Just outside the city walls.). A pizzeria just outside the walls. Pizza is very good and the appetizers (antipasti) possibly even better. Very affordable. Authentic informal Italian pizzeria atmosphere. The place is not very big and popular with locals late in the evening, so it is best to arrive early (before 8PM) or reserve a table, especially during week-ends.
- La Reginella, Via di Gello at via Filzi. 15 min walk from the tower or take bus number 2. Great pizza, and the guy who cooks it is originally from Napoli, ask for Vincenzino.
- La Stanzina, Via Calvalca close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Many of the recipes come from southern Italy.
- Trattoria da Cucciolo, Vicolo Rosselmini 9. The food is good and served in a tasteful quasi-homely ambiance. The staff is friendly and helpful. €8-15.
- 2 Millibar Ristorante Pisa, Via palestro 39, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00-15:00, 19:00-23:00. A new modern restaurant & cocktail bar. Millibar Ristorante Pisa is a great restaurant €15.
- 3 Pizzeria Pisa Le Tre Forchette, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 19:00-00:00. In the old town, within the walls of the Church of St. Peter (1072 AD). €10.
- La Mescita, Via Cavalca, very close to Piazza delle Vettovaglie. An expensive but very good choice. They serve both traditional and more sophisticated food.
- Osteria Bernardo, piazza San Paolo all'Orto,1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 19:30-24:00. This fine restaurant overlooks the Piazza San Paolo Orto and has a sober and comfortable ambiance. €20-30.
- Osteria dei Cavalieri, Via San Frediano. close to Piazza dei Cavalieri. Quite expensive but very good. You can find typical and traditional recipes from Tuscany.
- Ristorante La Buca, Excellent fish dishes. Good quality - price ratio.
Ice Cream is not just a refreshing dessert on hot days, it's an art and a style of life. The below-listed ice-cream shops all have their own style and philosophy on ice-cream. They use only seasonal ingredients. You'd be surprised on the variety of tastes and sensations. And the best: prices are stable around €2-2.30 for two scoops, independent of where you go.
- Gelateria Naturale Artigianale De' Coltelli, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, ☎ . Closed in the winter. Ice cream made using quality ingredients, many of which are locally sourced.
- Artisan Gelateria Rufus, Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 25. All ingredients are local and organic.
- Gunny Gelateria, Via S. Lorenzo, 64. Uses high-quality organic ingredients. "Porta di vetro" (glass door) shows transparency of the whole work-flow.
- Dolce Notte Cornetteria Via S. Bernardo, 41, Not really a fine pasticceria, but THE trendy spot to fill up their reserves when you're hopping from one bar to the other at night. Their maxi-cornetto with up to 3 fillings of your choice makes you fit for dancing through the night.
- Pasticceria Da Tripoli, Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 53, (at the end of Borgo Stretto to the left). Very traditional pasticceria with typical cookies and pasties. A local's favorite. Moderate prices. Closed on mondays.
- Pasticceria Cioccoroccolato, Via Buonarotti. A bit off the regular tourist route. French-inspired modern pasticceria with amazing creations, combining italian classics and international sweets. Varying selection to suprise their loyal local customers, which visit them both for their morning coffee and a truly masterful elaborate signature coffee in the afternoon. Closed on Sundays.
- Salza, in Borgo Stretto, high prices but good chocolate, sweets and pastries of all kinds. Don't sit down inside, though, because you end up paying €10 for two coffees.
During summer nights, everybody stays around the banks of the rivers, sipping drinks bought from the several bars in the area. A few very good wine bars are also available for colder, winter nights.
- Orzo Bruno, Via Case Dipinte 6/8 (A bit tricky to find but worth it), ☎ . Su-Th 19:00-01:00, F Sa 19:00-02:00. Artisan organic beer and organic food.
- Bar Mocambo, Via S. Bernardo, 29 . Cozy coctail bar with a vast selection of drinks. Outstanding signature coctails. Serves more than 100 different kinds of rum from all over the world and speciality chocolate etc as accompanyment. Ask the bartender to help you choose!
- Pisa Caffè dell'Ussero, Lungarno Pacinotti, 27. It is a monument to Italian culture in the 1400s Palazzo Agostini, on Lungarno. Its walls are covered with glorious mementos from its most famous visitors of the Risorgimento when they were students: Carlo Goldoni, Gacomo Casanova, Vittorio Alfieri, Filippo Mazzei, John Ruskin, Domenico Guerrazzi, Giuseppe Giusti, Renato Fucini, Giosuè Carducci, Cesare Abba, Giuseppe Montanelli. In 1839, it was seat of the meetings of the first Italian Congress of Scientists.
- Sottobosco, Piazza San Paolo all'Orto (Starting in Borgo Stretto, the main shopping street North of the river, walk North and turn right down via Sant'Orsola then left at via degli Orafi. Take the next right and walk straight). Tu-Su. Bar which also sells books. Has an upright piano and Jazz nights.
- Vineria di Piazza, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Serves great wine and very few dishes. You can find very traditional food here.
- [dead link]Babette (food and art café), Lungarno Mediceo 15, ☎ . The place has a strong personality; you can tell it's owned by art and culture lovers. You can pick up a book and read while having a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate, or even have a meal. Sometimes concerts take place in this café, and there are also evenings dedicated to special themes.
- Ritz, Borgo Stretto. Good coffee, fine service and the best dressed baristas. They also sell French wine, including champagne.
The Pisa hills were already a popular destination for enlightened travellers in the first half of the 1700s, due mostly to the popularity of the thermal spa of San Giuliano, which quickly became a fashionable spot for the upper classes. The mansions on the road along the hills, already renowned as places of idleness and relaxation in the heart of the countryside, soon assumed the characteristics of true leisure resorts, just like those narrated by Carlo Goldoni. Stay at Bagni di Pisa ('health-giving' waters are still offered to an international clientele) and then visit Pisa during one of the city’s festivals, staying at the Agostini Palace to enjoy the best view of the festivities. The Villa has hosted many illustrious guests such as Gustavus III of Sweden, Christian II of Denmark, the Royal Family of Great Britain, Benedict Stuart Cardinal of York, General Murat, Luigi Buonaparte, Paolina Borghese, Carlo Alberto of Savoy, the poets Byron and Shelley, and various other personages from the history books.
- 1 Hostel Pisa, via Corridoni, 29 (Pisa airport), ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 23:0/. FA youth hostel with dorm beds and private rooms. Walking distance from Pisa train central station and Pisa International Airport, 24 hr reception. Free Wifi. Laundry, kitchen, street parking (free from 20:00-08:00), dining room in-door & out-door, guest lounge, theatre, TV room. From €17.
- Pisa Tower Hostel, Piazza Garibaldi, 9, ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:30. Free internet and kitchen. From €15.
- [dead link]Walking Street Hostel, Corso Italia, 58 (5 min walk from the station, 25 min walk from the airport), ☎ . Friendly, helpful staff. Great atmosphere. Nice beds and dorm set up. Free WiFi. Breakfast included. From €14.
- Airone Pisa Park Hotel, via Sant'elena, 4 , San Giuliano Terme (Located along the road to San Giuliano Terme (Pisa)), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Outdoor swimming pool, free internet access, restaurant, bar, English cable TV, bicycle, free car parking and family rooms. €50+.
- Athena, Via Risorgimento 42, ☎ . Small hotel with 12 rooms. €55+ (breakfast not included).
- [dead link]Claudia Ferri B&B, Via II Settembre, 15 / D (Porta a Mare, Marina di Pisa), ☎ . Apartment with 4 B&B rooms, close to Pisa city centre. Prices per room from €45 per night (single room) to €125 (4-bedded room).
- [dead link]Eden Park Resort Pisa, Via dell'Argine, 6b, Colignola, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A resort in the Tuscan countryside near the banks of the Arno river, 4 km from Pisa. 30 cottages surrounded by mountains, valleys and picturesque historical villages. €50+.
- Hotel Francesco, Via Santa Maria, 129, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Near the tower, rooms with private bathrooms. Check for special offers on the website. €60+.
- Michele Guest House B&B, Via Amerigo Vespucci 103, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms with private bathroom and shower, fully furnished, A/C, LCD TV, free internet access, coffee machine, guided tours are available. €45-100.
- NH Cavalieri, Piazza della Stazione, 2, ☎ , fax: . Rooms are modern with good views. Rooms from €97 (VAT inc.).
- Royal Victoria, 12 lungarno Pacinotti, ☎ . Understated (though slightly tatty around the edges) old world elegance on the banks of the Arno. Doubles from €60, river view rooms from €80.
- San Ranieri Hotel Pisa, Via Mazzei, 2 (Cisanello), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 4-star hotel, some rooms have sky view, all rooms have WiFi. There are also a restaurant, ample parking space and conference facilities.
- Villa Kinzica, Piazza Arcivescovado 2 (in the centre), ☎ , fax: . En suite single, double, and triple rooms. €70+.
- Vittoria, Lungarno Pacinotti 12, ☎ , fax: . A small, charming hotel with a range of rooms available. €100+.
- 2 Hotel Relais dell Orologio, Via della Faggiola 12/14 56127, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Converted townhouse with an annexe, mostly en-suite doubles with a small number of singles and family rooms, pleasant communal areas, main selling point is proximity to the tower. €125+ (check online for deals and offers).
Pisa is a safe city. You do not need to worry about your safety (except in some zones at night, such as the area surrounding the station). However, you should take the obvious precautions (like, if you stay in a very cheap hotel, take your valuables with you) and watch out for pickpockets in the touristy areas.
As stated in the Buy section, avoid purchasing sunglasses, umbrellas, and other trinkets from illegal sellers. Definitely steer clear of counterfeit luxury goods. Upon arriving to Pisa, it is not uncommon for tourists to be swarmed by African vendors. Some vendors can be pushy or even downright aggressive. Even saying "no thank you" can bring unwanted attention. It's much better to ignore them entirely. Don't worry about being rude.
Even though cheap prices are tempting, especially when travelling on a budget, the Italian police have fined tourists for buying from illegal sellers. These fines can be very steep (up to €1,000). In front of the Tower, there are several legal vendors who have permits to sell items to tourists or anyone else. Be responsible and buy from them. Legal vendors have stalls lined along the main road whereas illegal vendors keep merchandise in a sack, cardboard boxes, or (in the case of fake purses) on their arms.
- Lucca. You can travel by train to this beautiful nearby city.
- Florence. Very easily reachable by train from Pisa Centrale.
- Volterra by bus
- Calci is very easily reacheable by bus. A charming medieval village nestled in the Pisan Mountains. The Charterhouse of Calci and the Museum of Natural History (home to the largest collection of whale bones in Europe) are among its attractions.