A Short City Break in Pisa16th July 2012
Think of Pisa and its Leaning Tower automatically comes to mind but this thriving University City in central Italy has plenty more up its sleeve. Crammed with historical and artistic delights and with a great personality, it’s a lovely city in which to unwind and explore the sights on a short city break.
Things to Do
When it comes to things to do, the Piazza del Duomo, also affectionately known as the Square of Miracles, is filled with important sights and should be your first stop during your visit. Take a snap of the iconic Leaning Tower and consider climbing to the top, although be aware that there is a limit on the number of climbers per hour so the queues can get quite long! You will also find the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery here. Within, you will find a lot of impressive art work by various artists and if you were unable to reach the top of the tower, perhaps climb the Baptistery instead which also offers great views.
If you happen to be in town on a weekday morning, pay a visit to the University Botanical Gardens which were first created in 1544 thus making them the oldest in Europe. A peaceful escape from your fellow tourists, it is certainly worth a visit. There are also a number of churches to see in the city, with the Church of San Nicola dating to 1097 and the Church of San Frediano dating to 1061. Each contain fantastic artwork and are certainly worthy of a visit, should you have an interest.
Don’t stop there though; take a short walk further into the city where you will uncover a vast selection of art galleries and museums, not to mention shops! Explore some of the lesser visited neighbourhoods to get a real feel for Pisa and stumble upon some of its many beautiful squares and arcades. Perhaps take a wander along the Arno River, flanked by many pastel coloured buildings in the morning and visit some of the lively street markets at the southern end.
Where to Stay
For those on a tight budget and willing to bed down in a hostel for a cheap weekend escape, you’ll find a vast selection of cheap and cheerful hostels across the city to tend to your needs. With a bit of research, you can get some freebies included in the rate such as free breakfast or free use of wifi. With most hostels giving you access to a kitchen, hostels also help to keep the costs down when it comes to food. Walking Street Hostel offers cheap beds in a mixed dorm during the summer also prices vary depending on your dates.
For those who prefer your own space, the choice of B&Bs and hotels abounds, with options to suit all price ranges and can be found right in thick of things, or enveloped in the Tuscan countryside further out. For a city break, most prefer a central location and Michele Guest House B&B and Hotel Francesco are fairly priced, well located options to consider with good reviews.
If you are looking to splash out on your trip, San Ranieri Hotel Pisa is a 4 star although a little further out of the city. The city centre is reached in 10 minutes by a bus so if you don’t mind a journey its worth considering for its great reviews. The Abitalia Tower Plaza is a 5 star option and boasts great views over the city and also houses a Turkish bath. Naturally of course, there are numerous other hotels to consider.
Places to Eat
When it comes to mealtime in Pisa, avoid eating at restaurants in close vicinity to the Tower. Restaurants here cater solely for the tourist meaning the food is often over-priced and disappointing. One of the good things about Pisa is that it is mainly frequented by tourists on a fleeting visit and therefore there are many restaurants that cater for the locals, meaning delicious, authentic food for you if you can track them down! Food here is varied with both excellent meat and seafood dishes on offer, as well as pizzas, and Tuscan wine of course sings its own praise. Some of Lonely Planet’s suggestions for top eats include La Grotta, Trattoria La Buca and Il Montino amongst others.
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