Pisa, the province of Tuscany has more to offer than you can imagine. From the very famous Piazza dei Miracoli, wine routes that will get you acquainted with the beauty of the region, and plenty other crowd-pullers, a visit to Italy must include this popular tourist destination.
Tower of Pisa
The Tower of Pisa in Italy, also known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most visited sites in Europe. Construction of the tower began in 1173 and due to war interruptions, it was only fully completed 800 years later.
This majestic architectural mystery can be found in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles). Built from white marble and designed as a bell tower, 207 columns form part of the Romanesque styled 8-story building.
Situated next to the Cathedral of Pisa, the Tower of Pisa was originally built as a vertical structure, but by the time the building phase reached the third story, it began to tilt. This was due to soil shifting on the ground.
To try to fix the tower’s leaning dilemma, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini ordered cement be drilled into the base of the tower, but this didn’t work. During World War Two troops nearly destroyed the Tower of Pisa.
Climb some 200 steps to the top of this world-famous tower and admire the view. When you go back to the bottom of the tower, take a photograph of yourself ‘holding the tower up’ – this a very popular thing to do for tourists. Near the tower are small shops where you can purchase souvenirs.
The Square of Miracles was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. There is more to see at this great attraction of Italy. Check out these sites:
The Pisa Baptistery is dedicated to St John the Baptist and is the largest baptistery in Italy. Construction of this Romanesque and Gothic style building was completed in 1363.
Visitors will notice the Roman influences in the lower levels of the building and the Gothic-pointed arches at the top. The sculptures on the façade are exquisite. Along the outer walls are artworks showing the stages of St John the Baptist’s life.
This splendid building is both ornate and elegant on the inside. Visit the upstairs gallery where you can enjoy a view of the whole baptistery. The acoustics of the building is brilliant, sing a note or two if you wish.
Do you see that the building also leans slightly? Again builders decided to build on soft sand.
The Pisa Cathedral is a fantastic example of Roman architecture and five naves make up this inspiring site. The building’s grand design is owed to the wealthy maritime republic at the time construction began in 1063.
In 1595 the cathedral was badly damaged by a fire and to help restore the building leading Renaissance artists were called in. The outer part of the cathedral is decorated in mosaic and marble decorations.
The cathedral also houses a wooden vault where Galileo is said to have come up with the theory of isochronism of the pendulum. There is a bronze lamp in the place where Galileo discovered his theory.
The cathedral’s interior is adorned in black and white marble and the ceiling is covered in frescoes. The pulpit depicts 9 scenes from the New Testament.
Monumental Cemetery of Pisa – The Composanto
The graveyard an old monumental cemetery and is located on the north side of the Square of Miracles. The cemetery is a rectangular building with the inner Gothic styled cloister.
It’s interesting to note that the cemetery was built upon soil brought over by ship from the Holy Land. At the cloister, you will find Roman graves. Beneath the cloister floor nobles of Pisa are buried. On the walls of the cemetery are stories of the Old Testament.
Wine aficionados, get your wine taste on
Besides the normal sightseeing attractions of Pisa, there’s another side to this region to explore and discover. A great way for those interested in wine and wanting to broaden their knowledge, take a wine tour.
Italy is well-known for its Chianti wine. And here you will be able to delve into the region’s blends and learn about different wines – whether you are a drinker of red or white, this region is ideal for a great wine tasting experience.
Pisa is located in the province of Tuscany, so you are pretty much in wine country. Knowledgeable wine experts will take you on the route you choose and help you get immersed in the culture and agricultural aspects of wine.
The scenery is a bonus on these tours and you will feel as if nothing comes close to this wine tasting outing. While you are here, stock up on your collection back home. There are group and private tours available.
Dishes to try in Tuscany
A popular summer dish, this is a bread and tomato salad and believe it or not, including chunks of stale bread. The salad is seasoned with cucumbers and onions then drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.
Originally a food for the poor, this is a vegetable soup that is enhanced with a poached egg.
This a well-known street food and you will probably find a few street stalls selling this sandwich. It’s made with the cooked stomach of a cow (tripe) and then topped with salsa verde (spicy sauce) and put on a soft bread roll.
A plain chestnut flour cake that originates from the Tuscan mountains. The cake is flavoured with pine nuts, rosemary and raisins.
A popular winter dish in Tuscany, this soup contains cabbage, carrots, onions and beans.
Need to know information
The best time to visit Tuscany is April and May as well as October and November. Winters are warm and sunny during the day, but cold at night. The warm months are July and August.
The quiet parts of the season is a great time to visit Tuscany. This is from April to June and September to October when the weather is good and there are fewer tourists. Be sure to visit Tuscany out of season to avoid paying high prices for accommodation and activities.