Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy, 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 small and cosy, and enjoying 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.
The climate of Pisa is something in between the one in the north and in the south of Italy.
Winters are mild: not as warm as in Catania nor as cold as in the Po Valley in the north. Temperatures almost never drop below zero. Snow is very rare.
Summers are warm, if hot, and sometimes very humid, although they are nowhere near as intolerable as in cities such as Milan, Turin and Ferrara, because they are mitigated by the wind and the sea (which is about 10 km away from the city centre). Rainfall in July and August is rare.
Spring and autumn are very pleasant, although most rainfall occurs in these seasons.
1 Pisa International Airport (PSA IATA Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport). This is the main airport for Tuscany, including Florence. Frequent flights by scheduled and budget carriers across Europe, including Russia and Istanbul, and to Qatar; nothing direct to North America. Destinations within Italy include Rome FCO (by Alitalia), and Bari, Cagliari, Catania, Lamezia and Palermo (by Ryanair). There's a large airside area with shops and cafes, but the non-Schengen departure area (after passport control) has only a small cafe and no shops. Currency exchange has about a 25% buy-sell spread, poor but average for an airport.
The airport is very close to the city centre, only 2 km south of the main railway station. Transport between city and airport:
- Pisamover is a pair of automated cable-drawn trams that shuttle between the airport and Pisa Centrale railway station. They run daily from 04:30 to 01:30 at 5-8 minute intervals, taking 5 minutes. Buy tickets from the self-service machines next to the platform gates (not from Trenitalia machines or kiosks): €2.70 per person. The airport station is 200 m from the terminal. At Pisa Centrale, follow signs through the subway to Platform 13, which looks desolate, but turn right to find the Pisamover platform and ticket machines. The two trams meet at a midway station, which is the Park & Ride area of Aurelia and San Giusto.
- City buses don't reach the airport, but stop on Via Sant'Agostino, a 5-10 minute walk north. They're often a better option than Pisamover for parts of the city away from the railway station, eg the Leaning Tower area. Head towards the Pisamover station then turn right, walk under the highway bridge and bear left to come onto Via Sant'Agostino. LAM verde, the green line, pass there every 10-15 minutes, from 06:00 to 21:00 (from 07:30 Sundays). Evening buses (Line 21) stop there every 30 minutes between 21:00 and 23:00, (online timetables). Buy tickets from the information desk in the arrivals hall.
- Direct buses to Florence and Lucca run from outside Arrivals.
- A taxi to the city centre will cost around €10-20.
- Walk: it's less than 2 km to the railway station, and 3 km to the leaning tower. The route is through a residential area, uninteresting but safe to walk.
2 Pisa Centrale is the main railway station, just south of city centre. Rome to Genoa trains stop here; most other destinations involve changing at Florence (SMN or Rifredi) for the regional trains through Pisa Centrale to Livorno or Viareggio. There's a Left Luggage service here, open from 06:00-21:00, costing €3 for 12 hr. This station is also the city terminus of the "Pisamover" tramway from the airport and Park & Ride.
To visit the area around the Leaning Tower, which is at the northwest corner of the old centre, 3 Pisa San Rossore station is much closer. It's on the branch line from Pisa Centrale to Lucca and Pistoia, with trains at least hourly.
Flixbus run direct between Pisa and Milan, Genoa and Rome. Don't use them for Florence, as the pick-up / drop-off is way out on the western edge of Florence.
With your own car, Pisa is easy to reach by autostrada, but city parking is the problem.
In the city centre, just walk.
The LAM or city buses run frequently to 18:00 then sparsely to 23:00. The most useful route is LAM Rossa, the red line, between railway station, riverside (stop Lungarno Pacinotti 2) and Leaning Tower (stop Piazza dei Miracoli). LAM Verde runs near the airport.
Tickets for both LAM and out-of-town buses are €1.50 single, a pack of ten is €14. Single tickets can also be purchased from the bus driver for €2.50. Tickets must be validated on boarding the bus; they are then valid for 70 minutes.
Pisa has a public bicycle service called Ciclopi which allows travellers pick up and drop cycles to and from 15 points around the city. They have a mobile app Bicincittà, but the only way to register is to come in person to their point of sales: INFOPOINT piazza del Duomo 7 (in front of the Cathedral), every day 09.30 - 17.30; LA GALLERIA DEL DISCO via San Francesco 96, every day 09.00 - 20.00; SOLFERINO TABACCHI piazza Solferino 11, from Monday to Saturday 08.00 - 13.00 and 15.30-20.00. Possible subscriptions:
- Daily: €5, including €1 of credit.
- Weekly: €10, including 2€ of credit.
Subscriptions include unlimited free rides up to 30 minutes. And then €0.9 for the second half hour, €1.5 for the third half hour, €2 for all subsequent half hours.
Not in the city centre: many streets are either pedestrianised or restricted to residents (ZTL, Zone a traffico limitato, camera-enforced but easy to stray into accidentally). Those streets that you can drive into are narrow, one-way, congested, and with next-to-no parking. Ask ahead at your accommodation for parking and permitted approach routes. For day-trips, Pisa Tower Parking is €1.80 per hour and close to the main sights.
You do however need a car to explore the villages in the hills of Tuscany. Consider hiring from the airport and either picking up late or dropping back early there, and just use public transport for Pisa, Lucca and Florence.
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.
Piazza dei Miracoli
- 1 Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower), Piazza Arcivescovado 1, ☏ , ✉ 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. 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 [formerly 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 (but entry passes, up to 2 per person, must be obtained beforehand in a nearby ticket office).
- 3 [formerly 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 [formerly 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.
- A 3-km walking tour along the city walls is one of the newest attractions in the city. It is an occasion to see the city, including the leaning tower and Campo dei Miracoli, from an unusual angle. They offer a great view over public and private buildings around the city, as well as many unexpected green areas. There are four entrances: one in Campo dei Miracoli, one next to a university campus near via Filippo Buonarroti, one in Piazza delle Gondole, and one in Piazza del Rosso, hidden behind a tiny gate. Bring water and sunscreen on sunny days, since there is not the tiniest bit of shadow along the whole tour. Open every day, 09:00-19:00 in the summer season. Tickets cost €3 (May 2019).
Piazza dei Cavalieri
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.
Along the riverbank
Lungarno Mediceo and Lungarno Pacinotti on the Northern side of the 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 stand interesting sights 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 the 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.
Other parts of the city
- 17 University Botanical Garden (Orto botanico), via Luca Ghini 5, ☏ . 8:30 – 21:00, gets closed earlier during winter. The first university botanical garden in Europe, created by the will of Cosimo de' Medici in 1544. €4 adults, €2 kids, €8 whole family. Tickets allow entrance to the Botanical Garden museum.
- 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.
- 20 Marina di Pisa. 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 hosts 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 firework show.
- Another summer attraction is the Gioco del Ponte (Game of the Bridge), a historical event held yearly on the last Sunday of June. The two sides of the city (Tramontana and Mezzogiorno, geographically split by the Arno river) participate in a historical parade, 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 25, a smaller historical parade 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 at the national and international level.
- 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.
- Scuola Normale (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7. Another special-statute public university, 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.
- 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 centered 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 hourglasses - of course the general motif is the leaning tower.
It is illegal 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 street market with antique 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, kale-based bordatino), 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 without salt (pane sciocco); this surprises most visitors.
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 area of 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.
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, cecina, and excellent focaccine. You can eat there or grab your food to go.
- 1 Numero 11, Via S. Martino, 47, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-22:30, closed Sa at lunchtime. Generous portions in an informal setting. €10-20.
- 2 Al Madina, Via S. Martino, 41/45, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30-15:00, 19:00-23:30, closed Su at lunch. 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. €15.
- 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).
- 3 Gramigna, Piazza San Felice di Nola 5, ☏ . W-M 19:00-01:00. Around €10 for a burger and a beer. Local pub that pairs home-made burgers and local craft beers at very competitive prices. Does not accept bookings.
- 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.
- 4 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, ☏ , ✉ 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 20:00) 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 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.
- 5 Pizzeria Pisa Le Tre Forchette, Via Palestro 39 (Near Teatro Verdi), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 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 ice-cream shops listed below 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 €2-2.50 for two scoops, independent of where you go.
- 6 Gelateria Naturale Artigianale De' Coltelli, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, ☏ . 11:30–22:30 (23:30 on F and Sa), 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. A glass door (porta di vetro) 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 your reserves when you're hopping from one bar to the other late at night. Their maxi-cornetto with up to 3 fillings of your choice will make 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 Buonarroti. A bit off the regular tourist route. French-inspired modern pasticceria with amazing creations, combining Italian classics and international sweets. Varying selection to surprise 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 will 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.
- 1 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. €4.5 for a pint, €4-8 for food.
- Bar Mocambo, Via S. Bernardo, 29. Cozy coctail bar with a vast selection of drinks. Outstanding signature cocktails. Serves more than 100 kinds of rum from all over the world, often paired with treats such as specialty chocolate. 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.
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, a beer in Borgo Stretto, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, Piazza Gambacorti or a pub in the surrounding areas, and 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 in the centre where you can find live music are:
- Ex-Wide (jazz/swing)
- Borderline (rock/metal; closed June to September, when they move to an alternative location on the seaside at Eliopoli/Calambrone).
- Lumiere (dance/electronic)
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 aperitivo/happy hour/chill-out location on the sea)
Outside the city centre but reachable on foot, in the north-eastern outskirts of the city, is
- Deposito Pontecorvo (a small disco)
- [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: 23:00. 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.
- Airone Pisa Park Hotel, Via Sant'Elena Asciano, 4 , San Giuliano Terme (4 km northeast of city, road is poor), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Countryside 3-star with outdoor swimming pool, free internet access, restaurant, bar, English cable TV, bicycle, free car parking and family rooms. From €50.
- Athena, Via Risorgimento 42, ☏ . Small hotel with 12 rooms. From €60.
- Eden Park Resort Pisa, Via dell'Argine, 6b, Colignola (4 km east of city, take SP2 towards Mezzana), ☏ . A resort in the Tuscan countryside near the banks of the Arno river. 30 cottages surrounded by mountains, valleys and picturesque historical villages. Doubles from €60.
- Hotel Francesco, Via Santa Maria, 129, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Near the tower, rooms with private bathrooms. Doubles from €80.
- Michele Guest House B&B, Via Amerigo Vespucci 103 (next to rwy station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Six rooms with private bathroom and shower, fully furnished, A/C, LCD TV, free internet access, coffee machine. Consistently clean and welcoming. Doubles €80-120.
- NH Pisa, Piazza della Stazione 2, ☏ , fax: . Rooms are modern with good views. Doubles from €100.
- Royal Victoria, 12 Lungarno Pacinotti, ☏ . Faded old world elegance on the banks of the Arno - the suite is fit for a visiting cardinal, a mere bishop shouldn't qualify. The original frescoes and tiling are a major constraint on what can be renovated, so expect some gloomy corners and rattly furniture. Doubles from €100.
- San Ranieri Hotel, Via Mazzei, 2 (Cisanello, near hospital), ☏ , ✉ 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. Doubles from €90.
- Villa Kinzica (The Pelican), Piazza Arcivescovado 2 (in the centre), ☏ , fax: . 3-star with en suite single, double, and triple rooms, great location. Doubles from €70.
- 2 Hotel Relais dell' Orologio, Via della Faggiola 12/14 56127 (central), ☏ , fax: , ✉ 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. 5-star going on 3, gets very mixed reviews. Doubles from €125.
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.
- Cinque Terre by train to La Spezia and Genova.
- Volterra by bus.
- Calci is very easily reachable by bus. A charming medieval village nestled in the Pisan Mountains. The Charterhouse and the Museum of Natural History (home to the largest collection of whale bones in Europe) are among its attractions.