GUEST ARTICLE: The Leaning Tower of Pisa tops the must see list for most visitors to Italy, but is it worth staying the night if you’re on a tight time frame?
Mention you’re visiting Italy and most people will mention pizza or Pisa in their first breath. Both are equally worthy things to enjoy, but while pizza is available in varying levels of authenticity across the country, there’s only one Leaning Tower of Pisa and one official Leaning Tower of Pisa website amongst all the others. Check out the opening hours as they’re subject to change.
Pisa is located in the region of Tuscany, a short train ride away from Florence (Firenze).
Torre di Pisa (the Leaning Tower of Pisa as written on local signs) is a relatively straightforward 30-minute walk from the main railway station, Pisa Centrale.
On the way to the tower, you’ll cross some charming pedestrianised retail shopping strips. As you get closer to the world famous icon, you might be amazed to see it poking out the end of an ordinary neighbourhood street!
Touts selling ‘genuine’ Rolex watches and souvenirs flank one side of the tower. Market stalls swarming with coach tour groups buying ‘I heart Pisa’ t-shirts and other tacky paraphernalia line the other side.
After admiring the tower and taking the obligatory self-photo or the “look at me casually pushing/kicking the tower” snap you may find your appetite for Pisa has been satisfied.
For others, a tower is there to be climbed.
Small groups of visitors are allowed to ascend the 294 steps (at a height of about 50 metres), at 15 euros per adult (17 euros for online bookings). It’s a high price to pay for an ordinary view and an extraordinary queue.
Pisa isn’t exactly known for its tall buildings and large monuments, but all proceeds do go towards the preservation and protection of this UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Once you’ve taken in the tower, it only costs a few euros to visit the often-overlooked neighbouring monuments in around Piazza dei Miracoli, the Duomo (cathedral) and the Baptistery.
At this point, you’ll probably head back into town and do a bit of exploring or shopping. But for many, once they’ve seen the tower and a few shops and the architecture around town, that’ll be their tour of Pisa.
So instead of booking a night in Pisa, consider visiting nearby Florence for a few nights, or plan a day trip in Lucca or Siena, you won’t regret it. Not only is there a lot more to see and experience by way of Renaissance art, world-class architecture and stunning piazzas, but you’ll also be making the most of your limited time in Italy.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.
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