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Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Italy with a population of some 90,000 people.
Pisa is best known for the world famous Leaning Tower, but those who come here with their mind already made up that the Tower is the only thing to see may miss the rest of the architectural and artistic marvels of this beautiful city.
The half hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) 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 center is very small, and enjoy the sight and the atmosphere.
Pisa has regular trains to and from Florence (usually three per hour), to and from Lucca (usually every hour) and is also accessible by bus, and has an international airport.
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 6AM-9PM.
Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA) is the main airport of Tuscany and is served by several airlines operating hundreds of weekly flights to national and international destinations. The airport is also within easy walking distance of the center, which takes around 20 min.
Do not expect the airport to be open 24/7, though. Many smaller European airports do have opening hours, so don't expect to stay overnight or hang out until late.
There are regular buses around town, including from the train station to the Field of Miracles. 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.
Many car rental agencies are at the airport. While you will not need a car in the city itself, it 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.
What to see in Pisa
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 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:
Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower). The structure was originally 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.
Duomo di Pisa (Cathedral of Pisa). The splendid cathedral, contains 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 timed ticket available from the ticket office.
Battistero (Baptistry). 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.
Campo Santo 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".
Museo del 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.
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.
Another summer attraction is the Game of Bridge, a historical manifestation held yearly on the last Sunday of June, in which the two sides of the city 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".
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, or Piazza delle Vettovaglie or a pub in the surrounding areas, and having a walk in Piazza Garibaldi and Lungarni, where the "spallette" (the low brick walls around the river) are full of students.
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 hour-glasses - of course the general motif is the leaning tower.