The city of Pisa, located in the legendary Tuscany region, is an icon of Italy thanks to its famous Leaning Tower. It’s also a city full of historic charm and significance and a place well worth making time to visit while in Italy. If you find yourself short on time, here is what to see if you only have one day in Pisa.
However, Pisa is also a fairly compact city. If you only have a day to spend here, you may find it’s enough to see most of the top sites in town. Drop off your bags at a Pisa luggage storage, and you may be able to fit all of your sightseeing into a single day.
Here are some ideas of what to do with your time.
Start your day at Piazza dei Cavalieri, one of the most iconic squares in town. Admire the beautiful Palazzo della Carovana, home to the Order of Knights of Saint Stephen. From here, you can also see the Cathedral of Pisa and its impressive Leaning Tower.
Obviously, you can’t visit Pisa without seeing the Leaning Tower and getting some photos of this unique structure. If you plan on climbing the 294 steps to the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive view and an achievement you won’t forget in a hurry.
However, remember that this is by far Pisa’s most popular tourist attraction, and there are often long lines to climb the tower, especially during the summer season. If climbing the tower is something you absolutely have to do on your Pisa trip, it may be a good idea to pay extra for skip-the-line tickets so that you can fit it in and still see more of what the city offers.
Next, make your way to the Baptistery, another magnificent building in this piazza. The interior is just as stunning as the exterior, so be sure to go inside and take a look around.
Afterward, walk over to the nearby Camposanto Monumentale, a large cemetery that’s home to many fascinating tombs and sculptures. The 14th-century frescoes and elaborate tombs make this a stunning place to explore. You’ll be able to enjoy incredible art from the centuries of Pisa’s history while you stroll the well-tended cemetery grounds.
Pisa is a town that embraces tourism, and often, the restaurants you’ll find in the center of the city aren’t the best places for a memorable meal. Stay away from the restaurants that attempt to lure you with menus in six different languages and feature pictures of their mediocre food. Try instead to discover some authentic Tuscan food to see why this region has such a great reputation around the world.
For a great lunch, stop by Osteria Il Mandola Del Buon Giorno. This osteria is a bit out of the center of town but well worth the effort to reach it. The menu focuses on traditional Tuscan dishes, all made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. The food here is some of the best you’ll find in Pisa and is reasonably priced for such excellent cuisine. Another great option is Antica Drogheria, which is closer to the center of town. This restaurant has been around for over a century and specializes in seafood dishes with a Tuscan twist.
After lunch, make your way over to Pisa’s Riverfront area for a different perspective of this fascinating city. From here, you can see the Leaning Tower from across the river, as well as take in views of other iconic sights like Palazzo della Signoria and Palazzo Blu.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Pisa, consider visiting one or more of the city’s museums. The Museo Nazionale di San Matteo is a great option and houses an impressive collection of Italian medieval and Renaissance art. If you’re short on time, the Palazzo Reale Museum is smaller but still has interesting exhibits on the history of Pisa.
Alternatively, you can visit one of the most beautiful churches in the city, Santa Maria della Spina. Though small, this Gothic church is adorned with beautiful sculptures, making it well worth a visit. And it won’t take much time to explore this perfectly formed church on your visit to Pisa.
As the sun begins to set, make your way back to Piazza dei Cavalieri for a different view of this beautiful square in the evening light. From here, you can see the Palazzo della Carovana and the Cathedral of Pisa aglow in the setting sun.
Of course, you’ll need something to eat, too. Avoid the tourist traps and head to Trattoria da Ruggero for a delicious, traditional Tuscan meal. This restaurant has been around since 1898, and it shows in the quality of both the food and service.
After dinner, walk off your meal with a stroll through Pisa’s lovely streets. As you wander, you’ll be able to take in the sights and sounds of this charming city as it comes to life at night. If you want to grab a drink, there are plenty of bars and cafes to choose from. Or, if you’re in the mood for some gelato, stop by one of the many gelaterias that can be found throughout Pisa.
Afterward, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the River Arno as you take in the sights and sounds of this charming city one last time before heading back to your hotel for the night. Or you could conclude your day at Piazzale Michelangelo, a hilltop square with sweeping views over the city of Pisa and its surroundings. From here, you can watch the sunset over this picturesque Italian city.
However you spend your evening, you can rest content knowing you’ve seen the best things to do in Pisa and cross this famed Italian city off your travel bucket list.
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