Pisa

Fix your Slanted View of Pisa

You've seen the pictures of tourists, who come to Pisa to have their arms "push" the Leaning Tower back into place. Once photo is taken, some climb the 294-step spiral staircase to the belfry. And then, that's it. The hoards leave having seen something from their "bucket list," and head back on the train to the rest of the Tuscany region.

It's probably because it's so easy to get here. Just over an hour away from Florence, you hop out of the train station and you can be in the center of Pisa within minutes. But don't just run to the tower. There's plenty more here that will ring your bell.

The city has nearly 90,000 residents – so there's "life" to Pisa, especially because of its great university and one of Italy's top schools. Since 1343, the curriculum has focused on "big" ideas: science, engineering, aerospace. Seeing that the city is also birthplace to the great astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei, this makes complete sense – even if his madcap idea about the Earth revolving around the sun did not.

Miracles do happen, and the world came around to the scholar's scientific discoveries (although a little late for Galileo). You too can be surrounded by a miracle – at the Piazza dei Miracoli, aslo know as the Piazza del Duomo. This is actually the compound next to the tippy tower and includes the Cathedral, Baptistry and the Camposanto Monumentale (monumental cemetary.) The entire square is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and is considered a main center for medieval art in the world.

The city of Pisa is split by the Arno River, and on both sides you'll find other historic cathedrals as well as notable museums. Knights' Square, or Piazza dei Cavalieri, is only second in popularity to the Piazza del Duomo. The square used to be the political center of medieval Pisa.

For an impressive, and somewhat unusual afternoon, head to the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti per il Calcolo. Exhibiting a collection of instruments used in science, you can view what may be a compass that belonged to Galileo.

That's one item you won't need on your journey through Tuscany and the rest of Italy. With an Eurail Italy Pass, Lucca is only about thirty minutes away and Livorno, less than twenty minutes. Direct trains to Rome take just about three to four hours.

Maybe the great astronomer was wrong. After your journey to Pisa and the rest of Tuscany, you might think the Earth revolves around Italy. With delicious food, wine, art and architecture – some other places don't seem to stand up.

And this is a place where its famed attraction is falling over.

Contributed by: Rachel, E-business Editor, who has experienced much more of Europe than she ever imagined, traveling by train.

 


The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower.

River Arno at Dusk, Pisa

The River Arno is a beautiful site at dusk.

Pisa in Tuscany, Italy

Beautiful Pisa in Tuscany, Italy

Interior of Pisa Cathedral

The interior of the Pisa Cathedral is filled with ancient mosiacs.

River Arno, Pisa

The River Arno is 150 miles long and runs through Pisa.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Our expert Rail Europe staff and well-informed travelers are sharing insights on our Support Community. Whether heading to a big city or the countryside, you’ll track down great tips for making the most of your journey.

Visit the Rail Europe Support Community

Original Renaissance Tour

Discover the artistic splendor of Florence with a guided tour of the city – includes the Ponte Vecchio, Duomo and Michelangelo’s David.

Original Renaissance Tour