Pisa, in northern Tuscany, is most famous for its leaning tower, but there is plenty more to attract visitors to this beautiful Italian city.
As with most cities in Italy, the city of Pisa is steeped in history. It is one of four great medieval maritime republics and there is still a connection with that time in the annual Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics, which is held in Pisa once every four years. The other three years it’s held in Venice, Genoa or Amalfi (the other three maritime republics). The boat race and the parade of the participants in their medieval costumes is truly a sight to behold.
Another event that draws many tourists to visit Pisa is the Gioco del Ponte. This is the bridge game, and it’s a reconstruction of a medieval competition between the city inhabitants from the north and south of the Arno River. As with the Regatta, the event begins with a parade in costume. The actual contest is when two teams of 20 people try to push a big cart over the middle of the bridge into the other team’s area – a kind of twist on a tug of war.
For sightseeing, the area around the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption is picturesque and there are several museums to visit. Of course, no trip to Pisa would be complete without going to have your photograph taken at the leaning tower, and you can also climb the 294 steps inside the tower if you’re feeling ambitious. You get a great view of the cityscape from the top.
As Pisa is a university town, it has quite a lively nightlife, and you can find plenty of bars to spend the evening in. The Arno Promenade alongside the river is a great place to see the Pisans take their passegiata – a stroll at the end of the afternoon.
You might choose to stay in the city itself or a little further outside in the countryside. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but you can also find bed and breakfast and holiday villas to rent in the city and surrounding area.
Pisa Italy holidays can be a perfect combination of culture and sightseeing, great food and with easy access to the beautiful Tuscan countryside. If you hire a car, you can easily travel to other towns in Tuscany such as Florence and Siena, as well as to the spectacular coastline of the Cinque Terre, a protected area of natural beauty.
With so much art and culture on display in Pisa, like many other Italian cities, it’s challenging to see everything in one trip. A great excuse to return.
Joanna is a freelance travel writer who lives in Nice. She enjoys frequent trips to Italy with her family to explore the beautiful Italian countryside and its cities.