Pisa at a glance
Pocket-sized and pretty, it’s home to Italy’s finest churches, galleries and countryside – oh, and there’s talk of a famous tower there, too…
In the summer it’s Lungarno (along the river), where Italians drink Campari at makeshift bars before browsing the night market stalls. Come winter, the cool kids retreat to the warming pubs of Piazza delle Vettovaglie.
You probably didn’t know
Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, was born in Pisa.
Watch Superman III (1983), just to watch the big blue boyscout himself make the leaning tower of Pisa straight again.
- Population 90,000
- Annual visitor numbers: 294,596 (2014)
- January mean temperature: 8°C
- August mean temperature: 25°C
Things to do in Pisa
Trattoria San Omobono
The cosy Trattoria San Omobono does hand-made tortelli, ravioli and gnocchi, served with whatever meat-based sauce the chef has made that day. Perfect for dinner.
Quarto D'ora Italiano
A few steps from the tower, Quarto D'ora Italiano serves superb pizzas with smoky wood-fired bases and a handful of quality ingredients sprinkled on top.
Trattoria Nonna Rosa
If you’re after something a bit lighter (and cheaper), try Trattoria Nonna Rosa. Ten euros will get you a glass of wine, slabs of focaccia and the best charcuterie in the city. Plus there’s free wi-fi.
Antica Bottega di Pisa
Serving pizza, panini and prosecco, Antica Bottega di Pisa is the perfect place to rest your weary legs. Be sure to try the bruschetta al lardo, served with a squeeze of lemon – it’s so good even your waistline will forgive you.
Mercato Delle Vettovaglie
Make like the local nonnas and buy the freshest produce at Mercato Delle Vettovaglie, the city’s fruit and vegetable market. Join the longest queue (it’ll be the stall that sells the best food), don’t touch the veggies (it’s an Italian thing), then have a homemade picnic on the nearby river Arno
Pisa’s a university town, so there’s no shortage of evening shenanigans. Head to Bazeel for an aperitivo and live music.
Groovers and foodies will love Bar Amaltea – the cocktails are strong enough to have you dancing into the early hours, and there’s a great array of delicious, sobering snacks, too.
Beer lovers should head to La Volta for its selection of craft beers and ales, starting at two euros. This place is great for a mid-week drink, when local bands come to play from 8pm onwards.
Small but perfectly formed, enoteca Vicolo Divino is the kind of place travellers love to stumble upon. The staff can direct you to a tipple to suit your mood, along with a plate piled high with local salami and cheeses.
Porto di Boccadarno
Pisa’s marina, Porto di Boccadarno, is a 15-minute taxi ride from the centre, but well worth a visit in the evening. This is where the city’s beautiful people come to play, before jetting out on their superyachts. Take your pick from any of the restaurants and bars on the water.
In Pisa’s centre, Valenti sells clothes and accessories from Diane Von Furstenberg, Dior and Fendi, to name a few. Owner Ninni Valenti selects every item, and her excellent taste is evident in the collection.
Coats, dresses, shoes, jewellery, even perfumes are crammed into the small, slightly cluttered store that is B.B. Maison – but rummage among the chaos and you’ll soon emerge victorious.
Corso Italia and Borgo stretto
For bigger, more mainstream brands, head to Corso Italia or keep wandering down Borgo stretto, on the other side of the river Arno.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is worth a climb, but it’s just one of the four lovely, also slightly leaning buildings that make up Campo dei Miracoli, the city’s cathedral area. Moorish arches lead visitors into the Romanesque Duomo, which features some of Italy’s most important artwork, including Galileo’s bronze chandelier.
Once home to the ruling Medici family, Palazzo Realeis a quiet-ish museum with a remarkable collection. Keep an eye out for a polyptych of San Nicola da Tolentino, painted by Raphael in 1500.
Actors, singers, artists and dancers all tread the wooden stage boards at Teatro Verdi, Pisa’s avante-garde theatre. Seasons are divided into the performing arts categories of opera, theatre, and contemporary dance, so there’s something for everyone, every single month.
Cultural and art space Palazzo Blu hosts some excellent exhibitions from Italian and international modern artists.
Events to look out for:
- Saint Ubaldo Day (May)
- San Ranieri Day (June)
- Gioco del Ponte – Pisa’s version of the Palio (June)
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