What are the best things to do in Pisa? We at Visit Italy have selected 10 of the must-see attractions in 2023.
Wondering what are the things to do in Pisa? Did you know that Galileo Galilei was born and studied here? He studied in what is still the seat of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the Scuola Normale Superiore, and home to the CNR, the National Research Council, where Italy's greatest scientists work.
It is often overshadowed by other Tuscan capitals, but this is one of the most beautiful cities of art in Italy and should definitely be visited at least once in a lifetime. So here are the things to do in Pisa that we highly recommend. You are in a veritable open-air museum, a place that exudes timeless beauty, but at the same time it is also a lively and modern city characterised by an intense youthful life, which can be observed especially along the Lungarni. The city has a millennial history, but it reached its peak during the maritime republics, in the 13th-15th centuries, and we see this period of great growth and splendour reflected today in its artistic values, marked by churches, bridges and palaces with magnificent frescoes.
But let's find out together what things to do in Pisa, besides going to see the famous Leaning Tower, of course.
Find out with us which 10 things to do in Pisa at least once in your life
You are in the city of the famous Leaning Tower, the one that we all try to support in the photos we see around on social media. When thinking what are the things to do in Pisa, it is easy to think of going to see the mysterious Leaning Tower, the undisputed symbol of the town. But limiting this beautiful town to the tower alone is reductive. Believe us, there are many reasons to visit this beautiful city, which is also a treasure chest full of treasures.
According to legend, it was founded by some Greek refugees from the Greek town of the same name, near Olympia in the valley of the River Alphaeus in the Peloponnese.
We have put together for you a guide to things to do in Pisa. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany and all of Italy. It is a very ancient city, dating back at least to Etruscan times.
Here are the things to do in Pisa, the best attractions and must-sees.
10. Things to do in Pisa: see the Leaning Tower
One of the very first things to do in Pisa is definitely to see the world-famous Leaning Tower. It is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in the famous Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, of which it is the most famous monument because of its features. Thanks to its slope, it is a symbol of the city of Pisa and one of the most iconic symbols of Italy. It is a self-supporting bell tower 57 metres high, built over a period of two centuries, from the 13th to the 15th century. With a mass of about 15,000 tonnes, it dominates a curved line with dark arcades and six-storey porticoes. The slope is caused by the subsidence of the ground, which occurred already in the early stages of construction. The building has an inclination of almost 4 degrees to the vertical axis. The tower is managed by the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, the body that manages all the monuments in Piazza del Duomo. It has been proposed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
9. All-Inclusive Guided Tour: things to do in Pisa
Discovering architectural highlights with this guided tour is another of the things to do in Pisa. The tour is comprehensive and includes the wonderful monuments of the Tuscan town. Your guide will take you to Piazza dei Miracoli to discover its monuments, known as 'miracles' for their incredible beauty and uniqueness. Be dazzled by this magnificent square dominated by the Duomo, a typical example of Pisan Romanesque architecture. Admire the famous Leaning Tower, a circular baptistery surrounded by iconic columns. You will have a guided tour inside the cathedral and the largest baptistery in the Catholic world. After the cathedral tour, explore the interior of the world-famous Leaning Tower and climb to the top. You can also access the cemetery, the OPA Museum and the Sinopie Museum.
8. Guided tour of the Cathedral of Pisa thing to do
The Duomo, officially the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, is at the centre of Piazza dei Miracoli, and is both the cathedral and the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa. A masterpiece of Pisan Romanesque architecture, it is tangible evidence of the prestige and wealth achieved by the Maritime Republic at its height. The Cathedral of Santa Maria, founded in 1063 thanks to the remains brought by the looting of Palermo and the trials against the Saracens of Reggio, Sardinia and Bona, bears witness to the prestige of the Maritime Republic at its peak. There was a terrible fire in 1595 and the damage to the original sculptures was repaired in the 19th century; today they are preserved in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
7. Seeing the Baptistery, Cemetery and Duomo are among the things to do in Pisa
Everyone knows the Leaning Tower, but Piazza dei Miracoli also owes its name to other monuments. The baptistery and cathedral are a triumph of Gothic and medieval architecture, while the Museo delle Sinopie offers a unique opportunity to learn about the process of creating frescoes. The incredible cemetery with its vaults, tombs and chapels lends the whole a truly majestic atmosphere. These are all things to do in Pisa at least once in a lifetime. Visit them.
6. Things to do in Pisa: Guided tour and wine tasting
Enjoy all that Tuscany has to offer with a guided tour of the city and among the things to do in Pisa, don't miss the opportunity for a wine tasting at the end of the trip. Together with an experienced local guide, discover the wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, home to famous monuments such as the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Leaning Tower. Discover the fascinating history of each famous feature on a 60-minute tour, followed by an exquisite Tuscan wine tasting by a local expert.
5. Knights' Square
In the heart of the historical centre lies Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights' Square), which is certainly one of the most memorable places and things to do in Pisa. Designed by Giorgio Vasari, the square is named after the Order of Cosimo I de' Medici, seat of the Order of Santo Stefano. Decorated with allegorical figures and zodiac signs, the Piazza dei Cavalieri is also home to important historical buildings such as the Palazzo della Carovana, now the seat of the Scuola Normale di Pisa. But also the bell tower, the so-called 'Tower of Hunger' where Count Ugolino died in 1289, sung by Dante in the Divine Comedy. It also houses the National Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, a late 16th-century church characterised by mannerist architecture and home to famous paintings by Vasari and Bronzino. Piazza dei Cavalieri is located in the historic centre, a few steps from the Torre del Clima and the Lungarno. Reference stop Corsica.
4. Keith Haring's Tuttomondo
Completely different from the previous places, one of the things to do in Pisa is to see the mural 'Tuttomondo' by artist Keith Haring, a must-see. This enormous 'fresco' is painted on the rear façade of the cloister of the Church of Sant'Antonio 'Servi di Maria' located on the outskirts of the city. This is one of the last works created by the artist before his death and also one of the most memorable. The mural has 30 stylised figures that are interconnected and represent different aspects of the world of peace. This is an extraordinary piece that was painted in just one week and was specially designed to last, using paints that can maintain the quality of the colour for a long time. It is located on Via Riccardo Zandonai, facing the monastery, on the opposite bank of the Arno river from the city centre. It is within easy walking distance of Palazzo Blu and a little further away from the Leaning Tower. Reference bus stop Pisa Piazza Sant'Antonio.
3. Things to do in Pisa: take a photo at the Church of Santa Maria della Spina
One of the things to do in Pisa must surely be to take a picture of the Church of Santa Maria della Spina. This very small and peculiar church immediately catches your attention. It is located in Lungarno, on the opposite bank of the historical centre, and definitely deserves a photo to post on your social networks. An exceptional example of Pisan Gothic is the small church of S. Maria della Spina, built in 1230 near the Ponte Novo, an important bridge north of the Arno, which connected Via Santa Maria and Sant'Antonio, and destroyed in the 15th century, it was never rebuilt. Initially the building was a small oratory, until 1322, due to the interest of the municipality, work began on its enlargement, which was completed ten years later under the direction of Lupo di Francesco, a Pisan architect and sculptor.
2. Things to do in Pisa: walking between Borgo Stretto and Borgo Largo
We return to the historical centre and go to Borgo Stretto, one of the most typical and ancient areas, simply called 'il Borgo' by the Pisans. Rich in historical buildings, we can find it not far from the Lungarno. Here we can see the Casino dei Nobili, which dates back to the 18th century, as well as the medieval market under the arcades that still line the streets that open into small squares. The main meeting place is Piazza delle Vettovaglie, which in the evening becomes one of the liveliest areas in the whole town. And if, starting from the Lungarno, one walks along the corridors of Borgo Stretto, its natural continuation is Borgo Largo, which mainly develops around Piazza del Pozzetto. This small area is also characterised by arcades and old-world charm. Borgo Stretto starts from Lungarno Piazza Garibaldi and runs northwards through the historical centre. Ideal for strolling, it is easily reached from Piazza dei Cavalieri. Unmissable among the things to do in Pisa is to stroll and shop at the markets. Reference bus stop Pacinotti 3.
1. Things to do in Pisa: Taste the Torta Co' Bischeri
This is the most famous cake in the entire province, still made by hand in all bakeries and ovens. It is impossible to leave without first tasting this special dish. You cannot leave the city if among the things to do in Pisa you have not included tasting this delicacy. The torta Co' Bischeri is an ancient and typical sweet of Pontasserchio, offered to pilgrims arriving for the feast of the SS. Crucifix of the Miracle. The cake consists of a crunchy shortcrust pastry and a fine filling of rice, chocolate, candied fruit and pine nuts.