Like I said, getting to Pisa is very easy by train (or by bus from a few places). I decided to fly into Pisa from Paris and I had pre-booked my stay at Hostel Pisa via Airbnb. My flight landed in during the hostel's cleaning hours (12-3pm) and so I had no access to the rooms, and had to spend my time in their common area, with other guests and managed to make a few connections there. I also had access to their free wi-fi and I was occupied catching up and updating my family and friends on my whereabouts, while editing my pictures for the Spain post. I also took advantage of their generous 7 euro buffet. At 3 pm, once access to the rooms were open, I finally got to my dorm, said hi to my dorm mates, freshened up and set out to explore Pisa.
My plan was to get to the top of the leaning tower in the morning. But since the city is so tiny, I found myself standing outside it after a mere 25 minute walk. So I went up early evening, just before sunset and had the most well-lit views. There was almost no crowd, since most people make this a day trip (:-p) and they allow only 40 people at a time into the tower. We were a smaller group of perhaps 12 and apparently within 45 minutes, they make way for a new batch of people. Because of my choice of timing, I sat at the top of the bell tower, listening to music and watching the sun set slowly, for almost two hours! I also got pretty neat pictures from the tower.
Pisa after the sun sets is truly mesmerizing and this is the sole reason why you need to make an overnight stop! There are sights that even a camera cannot manage to capture. I walked back to the canal after the sun set and it was beautiful with all the lights and the reflection of the stars. After a quick dinner at a cafe, I was ready to make my way back to the leaning tower, to get some night shots, but it seemed like it was going to rain and I had to rush back. I woke up the next day to a cloudburst and I was forced to stay in till about 11 am. I had planned to rent a bicycle from my hostel to go exploring. Once the weather cleared, I managed to get a bike, stopped by a supermarket, picked up a few juice boxes, a couple of sandwiches and set out to explore more. There were a ton of places to sit back and relax, but I found myself drawn back towards the tower. So on the grass, between the baptistry and the cathedral, I spent my last few hours in Pisa, and had a mini picnic, read a novel and even fell asleep and might have seen an Italian celebrity.
What you HAVE to do!
- Climb the Leaning Tower (had to make an obvious one)
- Walk through and explore the street carts at Piazza Dei Cavalieri. See if you can bargain and score anything Chanel
- Eat a pizza, so then you can tell people you ate pizza in Pisa.
- Visit the cathedral and the Baptistery.
- Take a long walk around the Arno river promenade (preferably at sunset). Look for the Santa Maria della Spina church along the way.
- Search for Keith Haring's "tuttomondo" mural (I read my map incorrectly and found myself at a dead end instead)
- Pay a visit to the monumental cemetery.