I went to Pisa back in July after deciding to book a last-minute getaway with one of my friends. Being completely honest, we only actually booked flights to Pisa because it was the cheapest airport to fly to from London on our way to Cinque Terre. Not that I have anything against Pisa! But Cinque Terre was where we really wanted to spend our holiday, relaxing. All together we spent 3 days in Pisa, which I can honestly say is more than enough because its actually quite a small city. In fact, you could probably walk from one end of it to the other in just over an hour, yes, it really is that small! That being said, we still managed to do a whole lot of walking during our 3 days in Pisa, cramming in all of the city`s beautiful architecture and stuffing our faces with local food and of course.. cafe latte. Luckily for me, my friend is as crazy about coffee as I am and no-one does it quite like the Italians!
The leaning tower of Pisa
Going to Pisa and not seeing the iconic leaning tower is kind of like going to a cinema but only watching the adverts..you just can’t do it. After trawling through the millions of Instagram selfies of tourists from all over the world posing next to the humungous tower, I was already pre-planning selfie poses in my head. However, upon arriving at the tower, me and my friend suddenly burst out laughing because it was surprisingly…erm…small. Perhaps its just the angle that everyone takes their photos at or perhaps we just had high expectations haha, but either way, its much smaller than you’d think. It is also jam-packed, I mean, literally overflowing with tourists. If you’re hoping to visit soon then I would try and get there as early as possible to avoid disappointment/get that perfect photobomb-free selfie. Interesting facts, construction of the leaning tower began in August 1173 but was put on hold several times due to wars, debt and whilst engineers attempting to correct the `lean`. It was eventually completed in the mid-1300’s but was still (obviously) leaning. This is all down to the shifting soil at the towers foundations, mainly because it was built on soft ground made up of clay, fine sand and shells.
There are other building to visit too though…
The Camposanto (also known as the “Holy Field”) was constructed in 1278 so as you can imagine, it is home to some pretty beautiful architecture and is conveniently located next to the tower of pisa. Tickets cost €5 but its definitely worth taking a look inside at the historical and lavish decor. The Palazzo della Carovana is one of the many palaces surrounding the Palazzo dei Cavalieri and was constructed by the Duke of Tuscany himself, Cosimo dei Medici I for the Knighthood of St. Stephen. San Michele in Borgo, San Piero a Grado and Pisa Baptistery are all worth checking out too. Generally speaking though, the city itself is full to the brim with some incredible architecture so even if decide to just walk around for a couple of hours, you’re sure to see some picturesque places.
My final chosen leaning tower of pisa selfie face. Beautiful, I know…
Pasta, Pizza, pretty much everything carbs.
As you can probably imagine, I went IN when i got to Italy and by IN I mean headfirst, into carbs. Pasta, human-sized pizzas, ravioli dripping with fresh tomato sauce, gelato laces with caramel syrup, oh I went IN. And why not? If you’re a carb lover like me then Italy is the best place to shove your mouth full of fresh and cream-filled (or fresh cream filled) food till your hearts content! L’Ostellinoat Piazza Felice Cavallotti has been rated number 7 out of 785 restaurants in Pisa and had some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had and for a very reasonable price too! Fresh salami with melted mozzarella and sundries tomatoes on a toasted fresh panini for €3? Im sold. Il Campano at Via Domenico Cavalca was another favourite of mine. Tucked away in the old town, this lovely little place has a menu to die for. Grilled octopus, fresh cod pasta with porcini mushroom and the most tender t-bone steak you’ll evert taste in your life, this place has it all. The staff were also very accommodating and patient with the language barrier! Finally, La Bottega del Gelato at Piazza Garibaldi, has long been known as home to the best ice cream in Italy and it docent disappoint! Unsurprisingly, the queue for this place was out of the door and onto the street, even late at night. But its worth it (plus you get a nice view of the river!) Salted caramel and tiramisu were the absolute bomb.
The river Arno
The river Arno is one of those gorgeous spots that acts as the `meeting point’ or reference for friends, families and tourists! If you ever get lost in Pisa, just ask for the river Arno and you’ll know where to go from there! At night, the river banks really come alive with young people, families and couples strolling along whilst soaking up the gorgeous view. The buildings surrounding the river itself have a very medieval feel to them and make for the perfect photo session! During the day, you’ll find lots of cafes and restaurants dotted around the the banks, serving freshly brewed coffee and sandwiches.