When we arrived in Florence, we were worried that we would not have enough time to see Florence and make a trip to Pisa. Fortunately, we were able to see everything that we wanted in Florence on our first day there. This gave us the time to be able to head over to Pisa.
Getting to Pisa
Getting to Pisa from Florence was extremely easy as there are trains that leave every 30 minutes or so. Before we left in the morning, we looked up what time the express trains left as the travel time was 1 hour vs. 1.5 hours on the commuter train. We opted to take an early train in hopes that we would beat some of the tour groups which would arrive via bus later in the day.
Purchasing our tickets was easy as there were kiosks at the train station that had an English language option on them. I was surprised that a ticket costs 8.25E or $9.20 per person, as the train was not very long. All in all, I was happy we took the train – it was clean, efficient and easy.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The main reason that we made the trip to Pisa was to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After a 10 minute walk from the train station, we arrived at the tower.
When we first saw the tower we were shocked that it had not fallen over. After the conservation work in 1990 and 2001, the tilt had been diminished to 4 degrees, but given the height of the tower, it seemed quite slanted.
When we looked up information about the tower we learned the the tower was doomed from the beginning as one side of the ground was softer than the other. In a strange twist of events, the Italians took a break from building the tower for some time when there were battles. Had this not happened, the tower would have toppled during construction. It was the idle time during the building that actually allowed the tower to stand for so many years after it was completed.
We had a good time taking the stereotypical tourist pictures holding up the tower. For some reason everyone seemed to be taking pictures in the plaza where the light was bad, we were behind the tower where the lighting was better and there was barely anyone around.
After we took our pictures of the tower, we took a few pictures of the other buildings in the plaza before we walked around town for a bit.
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina
When looking for things to do in Pisa, I kept seeing pictures of a tiny, white church right along the river. When I dug more, I found out it was the Chiesa di Santa Maria, a church that almost collapsed in the 15th century. In 1871 it was dismantled and rebuilt at a higher point on the river to protect it from the rising water levels.
After arriving, we were a little sad that the church was closed so we could only enjoy the outside. The light wasn’t right to get the best pictures, but we were happy that we stopped by and were able to see it.
Walking Through the Streets and Along the River
The rest of our time in Pisa, we enjoyed strolling through the streets and walking along the river. I felt that the streets seemed more Italian than Florence, at least how I envisioned Italy. Florence to me felt very touristy and everything seemed to be almost too perfect, in Pisa, while it was still very touristy, it felt a little more raw and real.
After we walked around for a bit, we decided to head back to Florence where we could catch a late lunch.
When we asked friends who had been to Italy about what we should see, we were told that Pisa wasn’t worth visiting. I was glad that I didn’t take all of the advice that we were given since Pisa turned out to be my favorite part of Italy.
It was a very easy day trip from Florence where we were able to see a different side of Italy and got some pretty great pictures. I would highly recommend including a visit to Pisa to anyone who is planning to visit Florence.