Is Pisa worth going a little out of our wat to see? Does the town have anything else to offer besides the Leaning Tower?
To be frank, no. That said, everyone has their own option, so others may think it worth the trip.
I don't think it's worth it at all.
I am one of those people who like to see things for myself. When we went from Siena to Cinque Terre, I just had to stop. We actually enjoyed it very much. In 2008, we were driving from the Cinque Terre to FLorence, and I asked my sister and her husband if they wanted to stop. They were non committal (is it good, worth while, etc), but I told them I thought they might regret being so close and not stopping to see the Tower of Pisa. So we stopped. Afterward, they told me they were really glad we had taken the time to do it, and how glad they were to have seen it. We never spend long there, and I'm not sure I would go back on my own (I have seen it now..twice) but I really think it is worth seeing at least once in your life. Perhaps the reason I enjoyed it so much was I went with low expectations. As for the town, I thought it looked interesting, but time never allowed for us to wander around.
We stopped because it was a good place to come from Cinque Terre and pick up the rental car for Tuscany. It was basically on our way, not out of it. I'm glad I saw the tower and Duomo. I'm also glad I only used up a couple hours to do it. we reversed Rick's walking tour to walk back to the station from the tower and saw very little of interest. That said, I didn't bother on my first trip to stop there, because it was out of my way and I preferred to spend all my time in Florence on that trip. I guess my feeling would be, if you're passing through or close by, it's worth checking your bags at the station for a couple hours just to see it. but if not, wherever you are is probably more interesting. Only you can decide how important it is for you to see the Leaning Tower and the other buildings in the field, but what I saw of the rest of the town reminded me a bit of Hollywood - hyped, seedy, touristy, and nothing particularly special.
Not, if its out of your way.
Absolutely! Why not see one of the most iconic architectural structures in the world? I think it's worth it. Our second visit last year was actually more rewarding than the first, many years ago when the awe factor ran quite high.
Thanks for all of your input. Since I will be going from Siena to CT, think I will hop off the train and try to straighten that tower up myself.
The Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa, with its Duomo, Baptistry, Camposanto and Leaning Tower, is unique on earth and visually one of the seven wonders of the world. Having said that, the rest of the town is hugely disappointing. To say that Pisa is a bad copy of Florence is an understatement: it's a very bad copy. Nevertheless, seeing the Campo dei Miracoli and the interior of its buildings is a MUST, imo.
I enjoyed a stroll from the train station to the tower. Pisa is a real city, with plenty of students, eating places, etc. Allow a couple of hours, maybe stopping for lunch. For Kamikaze travelers, skip Pisa.
I don't recommend the approach from the big parking lot on the other side of town, off the highway. Tackiness abounds and leaves visitors with the impression that Pisa is a dump. My favorite part of the tower complex is the cemetery.
It's fun to watch the other visitors. Some go goofy taking pix with the leaning tower in the background.
Be sure to count your change if you buy a ticket to enter the cathedral, etc. I had a bad experience there.
Don't miss the interior of the duomo, as it's really great. Unless climbing the tower is something you've always wanted to do, I think visitng the duomo (and possibly also the baptistery) is a better option for a short visit. Also, I enjoyed the 25 minute walk from the train station to the Campo dei Miracoli. Considering walking one way and taking the bus back to save some time.
There is a very interesting thread on the helpline that will give you some food for thought about Pisa:
We didn't see the town but Campo Dei Miracoli, when taken as a whole, is an amazing site well worth a visit.
That is exactly what makes Pisa so unique. There are wonderful cathedrals all over Europe. Great towers to climb with fantastic view can be found in the hundreds. The fact that this particular one is leaning is just a curiosity, not much more.
But I cannot think of another city that has this kind of assembly of buildings of in one place. AND present them in such harmony. Not to mention that the architecture IS important.
And I've seen quite a bit of Europe. In fact, I had seen over a dozen other countries before embarking on Italy.
Before we went to Italy I wasn't even sure if we would stop in Pisa at all. In the end the half day there (also a stop on the way to CT) was one of the biggest surprises of the entire trip for me. We probably spent more time in the cemetary looking at the statues and frescos than climbing the tower. And with a scientist husband in tow (and kids who got some of his genes) Galileo and his work in Pisa kept us interested as well.
Oh if it's a stop on the way to CT, then I would say it is worth a couple of hours. Leaving your bags at the train station is super easy. I would echo Frank's suggestion of taking the bus one way and walking the other way.
I thought it was worth it, and not a bad little town either. Pisa was the last stop on a 12 hour bus tour I took out of Florence. I am glad to have seen not only the Leaning Tower, but the town too.
And one of my favorite souvenir stores is by the Tower. There's a big statue of I forget what near the Tower, on the "walkway" you'll see it. Face the statue and tower and it's over your shoulder, I think to the left, on the corner.
We loved it. There's something about that glowing marble that just got me. Now, that said, we were there just for a bit to wander, take pictures. We lost interest in the climb because we were tired from Roma and ready to lie on a rock in Vernazza.
We enjoyed the ride to and from Pisa. There is a lovely section on the river.
It's one of those, "Hey, I've been there!" places. I thought it was fun and easy to get to.
Just to add a question: we will be traveling from CT to Florence by train, and I'm thinking a quick stop in Pisa might be worth it. We have a Eurail Italy 4-day saver pass, which will require a reserved seat for each day of our train travels; so I'm not sure how we can hop off in Pisa and get back on,to continue to Florence, or if the train from CT to Pisa doesn't require a seat reservation? I haven't studied the details of the train schedules enough yet to know, and this will be in early July, so schedules aren't yet posted. Any advice?
It is worth a look, but I wish all those tacky souvenir stands weren't there. Of all the places I've been in Italy, this seemed the most 'tourist tacky.' Don't forget to have someone take your photo 'holding up the tower.' That was my favorite part-talk about tourist tacky-but I loved it.
I think it is worth a stop if it isn't too far out of your way. Been here 2x in the last few years, most recently last summer with my sisters who had not been, and have climbed the tower twice. The leaning tower is one of those things I just wanted to see sometime in my life as I remember seeing pictures of it as a child. Our kids enjoyed seeing and climbing the tower also. Haven't spent any time seeing the rest of Pisa so can't comment on this. If you go, do take a picture of yourself holding the tower up. Everybody's is doing it and we even took a picture of that as it is so funny! Have a great trip.
You will need to take more than one train to get from the CT to Florence. The leg from La Spezia to Pisa can be on either an IC train or a regional train. The passholder reservation fee on the IC train is 3 EUR and you can buy it just before boarding. No reservations are possible on regional trains. Just get on any train and show your pass to the conductor.
Thanks Tim- That helps!
Pisa was our only (mildly) unpleasant experience during our travels in Italy last month, but, that being said, it's still worth it, just to say you've seen the leaning tower, and the Duomo and Battistero are truly beautiful. Every half hour one of the attendants comes into the Battistero and sings a few chords, so we can hear her voice doing rounds with itself; something about the way the building was designed causes this effect--its like the interior is a giant musical instrument.
As for the ticket-selling people, they were so rude it was almost funny. You had to wait in a line, then go up to one of the counter personnel, the way you do at a bank, but none of the counter people ever looked over to indicate you should go ahead: they looked down and pretended to be busy. I asked for a ticket to get into both the Duomo and the Battistero--long story short, I only received tickets for the Battistero, and had to jaunt back to the ticket building to get tickets for the Duomo. Very annoying. Plus there happened to be a cold stiff wind that day across the campo, so it wasn't exactly a pleasant outdoor experience. I do recommend walking from the station (we even walked back, just to avoid the bother of getting a bus ticket and looking for a bus stop) as it gives you a bit of a look at the town--there's a lovely piazza where the university is, for example. Just a couple of blocks beyond the Campo dei Miracoli, Pisa becomes a normal Italian town--with lovely gelato!
How long does it take to walk to the leaning tower from the train station? Is it easy to find?
We just followed the directions in Rick Steve's book--it was easy. We found the TI exactly where he said it was, and got a map of Pisa, and their recommendation for how to walk to the Campo dei Miracoli, which we ignored on the walk to, because Rick's is a more scenic choice, but did follow on the way back because it's a little faster. I think it would have been less than 25 minutes without stopping, but we did, for a gelato. The way to is even harder for me to judge since we were dawdling and taking pictures, and also sat on a bench outside a panini shop in the university area to have a sandwich. A little over half an hour with no stops and a moderate pace, I would imagine.
We left our luggage at the train station (secure storage--they even photocopy your passport), since we'd decided to see Pisa as a stop on our way from Cinque Terre to Florence. Got back to the train station, bought a ticket for the Regionale to Florence, checked the board for the next departure, then off we went.
Skip it. It's a little out of the way just to see its only attraction.