Once one of Italy’s most powerful and prosperous maritime republics, Pisa boasts breathtaking medieval architecture and is surrounded by some of the nation’s most beautiful countryside. The charming and historic city in the Tuscany region is the birthplace of Galileo Galilei, sometimes called the “father of modern science”, as well as pioneering Middle Ages mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, and hosts one of the world’s most notable landmarks, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The famous tower is only one of many marvels available in Pisa. Indeed, the entirety of the city’s Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The city also has more than 20 historic churches, numerous palaces, and other sites of interest spread across its downtown area.
Modern Pisa is a bustling university city, home to the University of Pisa, founded in the 14th century, and has a student population of more than 50,000. Much of the city’s nightlife caters for and is supported by these students, who congregate in the bars and clubs of the riverside Lungarno area or the streets surrounding Piazza Garibaldi.
Pisa has a warm Mediterranean climate. July and August are typically the warmest and driest months, and December, January and February are the coolest months.
When to fly to Pisa
The warmer months (June, July and August) are Pisa’s busiest.
The cooler months (December, January and February) are Pisa’s low season.
March through May and September through November are good times to visit, as the weather is still often very warm, but prices are at shoulder-season rates.
Getting around Pisa
Pisa is fairly small, and most attractions are close enough to walk to. The local bus service, Compagnia Pisana Trasporti (CPT), runs between the airport, central station and other popular locations.
Pisa insider information
- The Cathedral of Pisa is located near the Leaning Tower in the Cathedral Square, which is also known as the Piazza del Duomo. Construction of the cathedral began in 1064 and it is a pre-eminent example of Pisan Romanesque architecture.
- The famed Leaning Tower in Piazza del Duomo isn't Pisa's only historic building at a slant: the bell towers of San Nicola Church and the Church of San Michele of Scalzi do not stand entirely upright either. Pisa's most famous slanted tower leans due to its insufficient foundation as well as the weakness of subsoil beneath, and the San Michele tower owes its tilt to subsidence, whereas the base of San Nicola's octagonal bell tower is actually located under the modern day streets.
- The Luminara of San Ranieri festival, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, should not be missed if visiting in June. Every year on the evening of June 16 (San Ranieri’s Eve), riverside buildings are decorated with candles, whose glowing reflections flicker pleasantly on the surface of the Arno. The evening concludes with a midnight firework display over the citadel and nearby bridge.
- Pisa’s Botanical Gardens, belonging to the University of Pisa, is said to be one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. It was established in 1543 by Luca Ghini, and is open to the public Monday through Saturday. There is a small admission fee.
- Pisa’s Romanesque Baptistery, dedicated to St John the Baptist, dates back to the 12th century and is the largest baptistery in Italy, with a circumference of a 104 metres (341 feet). The baptistery is known for its perfect acoustics. Arrive early in the day (to avoid crowds) and test it out for yourself.