Train Journey to Pisa
The rail network in Italy is great – most of the cities are well connected by trains. Also the trains are frequent – which makes it super easy to travel between cities. Efficiency-wise I am not so sure. I was on a train that left 5 minutes earlier than scheduled, and on that same evening, I was booked on a train that was delayed for a few hours. It’s not always like that of course, my train ride to Pisa was perfect – departed and arrived as scheduled. Maybe the day trains are more reliable, or maybe it was just my luck.
There are many trains travelling between Florence and Pisa – more than 40 trains daily. I booked myself the Trenitalia regional train from the Firenze S. M. Novella station in Florence to Pisa Centrale. The shortest train ride is just below an hour. You can book directly online with Trenitalia. They will issue you an electronic ticket stamped with your name and date of travel. All you need to do is show the conductor the ticket on your mobile device, together with your ID (passport) if asked. The ticket was less than EUR9 one way (prices depend on the timing and the number of stops etc).
Pisa Centrale to Campo dei Miracoli
I just checked out from my hotel in Florence that day. Pisa Centrale has luggage facility, which is very convenient – so I stored my luggage there, after getting off the train. There is a closer station to the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is Pisa San Rossore, but it doesn’t have a left luggage facility. Also, not all trains from Florence stop at San Rossore, so you would need to check that.
From Pisa Centrale, you can go to the Campo dei Miracoli, where the Leaning Tower is located – via taxi, bus or simply walk. You can, of course, take the train to San Rossore, and then do the short walk to see the Tower – but you may find yourself wasting 15 mins or more waiting for the next train to San Rossore. I initially thought of walking – and if I did have more time that day, I would have.
Well – it will take you about 30mins or so, and basically, you get to see more of Pisa than just the Leaning Tower. Some of the highlights along the way include:-
- Ponte de Mizzo – this is the bridge across river Arno
- Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights Square) – which was the political centre of the old city. You can get a lot of photo opportunities here with beautiful buildings like Palazzo della Carovana (built in the 1560s), a palace, that is now a university. There is also the beautiful church – Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, built around the same period
Taking the bus
If you take the bus like I did – things that you should note:-
- You can get your return tickets at the news stand inside the Pisa train station – it’s only around EUR1 each way
- The bus stop is just outside the station (on your right when you exit). The bus sign will say ‘Lam Rossa’ heading towards Pietrasantina
- Make sure you get off at the Torre stop. I almost missed it
- Expect about 15 mins ride
Campo dei Miracoli
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the Campo dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles. There are four key structures in the square:-
- Duomo di Pisa – a cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta opened in 1063
- Battistero di San Giovanni – the Baptistery is dedicated to John the Baptist; other interesting facts
- it is the largest Baptistery in Italy
- the Baptistery also tilts slightly!
- Galileo was baptised here in 1565
- Campanile – the bell tower of the cathedral which is also known, as The Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Camposanto – the Graveyard, founded in 1277 to house the graves that were previously scattered around the cathedral
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa which stands about 60m was completed in 1399 (the construction actually started in 1173). There are 251 steps up the Tower. The Tower started leaning during the construction phase due to the soft soil under its foundation. The construction was actually disrupted several times due to the wars and financial constraints (hence the long period before it was finally completed). The Tower would have toppled over though if it didn’t take that long to complete, as the soil needed time to compress below the Tower.
If you want to go up the Tower, it is recommended to purchase the ticket in advance online as you have to book certain time slots. My ticket, which costs about EUR18, gives me access to the Tower and all the monuments. Note you have to be able to climb the stairs, there are no lifts or anything and children below six are not allowed due to safety reasons. Click here to book tickets.
Great to See it in Person!
I am glad that I was able to include Pisa in my trip – a bit unfortunate I had to rush through the whole thing. Anyway – I have seen the Leaning Tower on TV, magazines and books growing up – so it was just remarkable to finally see it in person. And not just to see it but go up the Tower as well!
If you get a chance – do go, and dont be put off by the many tourists around there, try combine it with the Tower ticket – it’s worth it.
Last but not least – can’t leave Pisa without getting my beautiful Pandora charm!