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Pisa is known for its leaning tower, but that is certainly not the only thing you can see and experience in this city. Enjoy the Tuscan food, visit a museum or go explore and admire its beautiful setting.
Of course you can't deny the leaning tower, the Campanile, in Pisa. This is the bell tower of the Duomo next to it. Behind the Duomo is the baptistery Battistero. These buildings are on the so-called Campo dei Miracoli. On the north side you can see a beautiful cemetery (Camposanto) with antique Roman sarcophagi and finely restored frescoes. You can admire the art treasures and sculptures from the Duomo and the Battistero in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. If you want to know how the Camposanto frescoes were made, visit the Museo delle Sinopie, where the sketches are on display.
After visiting these main attractions of Pisa it is time to explore the rest of the city and its historical buildings. The Piazza dei Cavalieri is a beautiful example of urban planning in the late Renaissance. Wander along the Lungarno Mediceo and Lungarno Pacinotti on the northbank of the Arno and the Lungarno Galilei and Lungarno Gambacorti on the south bank. Especially a must at night, as the city lights reflect beautifully in the river.
Pisa isn't just ancient art and architecture. Artist Keith Haring made a huge mural as a gift to the city. You can see this painting named Tuttomondo between the train station and Corso Italia.
Despite the large number of students in the city - which sit on the stone wall along the Arno at night - there aren't many great nightlife spots in Pisa. Going out in Pisa often means grabbing a bite to eat in a restaurant and enjoying a drink in one of the cozy bars.
The district of Campo dei Miracoli is - how can it be anything else - very touristic and the prices for food and drink don't lie. Discover the real Pisa and choose a cafe or restaurant further away from this touristic center, for example near the vegetable market in Piazza delle Vettovaglie. And of course do not forget to try Pisa's biscotti, a biscuit which is available in many varieties at bakeries.
You can also shop in Pisa, albeit on a more modest scale than in Milan or Rome. The best shops are in the galleries of the Borgo Stretto. Corso Italia is a busy shopping area too.
It would be a shame if you only visit Pisa to see the tower and then leave again. The city is the gateway to Tuscany, known for its rolling hills, fine cuisine, vineyards, excellent olive oil, charming villages and historic towns.
Located only twenty kilometers northeast of Pisa is Lucca, another beautiful Tuscan town, home of the oldest cathedral of Italy amongst other things. Siena lies to the southeast and is famous for its beautiful medieval buildings, like the gothic cathedral Duomo die Siena and the San Galgano Abbey.
Remains of the Etruscans can be found all over Tuscany, but especially along the coast south of Pisa. Situated about 35 kilometers southwest of Pisa is Volterra, which was founded by the Etruscans. You will learn more about the Etruscan coast and culture in the Museo Guarnacci. Volterra has an impressive fortress too. The villages along the coast are connected by roads that were built in Roman times. Off the coast are the picturesque islands of the Tuscan archipelago.
Fans of Tuscan wines should definitely follow one of the special wine routes. Naturally you can taste and buy some wine on the way. Do not forget to visit one of the olive groves and to purchase some high quality olive oil.
If you take the A12 towards the northeast, you will pass La Spezia in the area of Cinque Terre. They are five picturesque villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso) along a rugged coast and surrounded by terraced vineyards. The breathtaking scenery in particular makes the Cinque Terre attractive.
In the National Park Tenuta di San Rossore, west of Pisa live wild boars, deer and rare birds.
Finding a parking space in Pisa is not easy, especially near major touristic attractions. It is better to park your car on one of the parking lots further away from the center, like near Porta Santa Maria or near Pisa San Rossore. Please note that in many streets around Campo dei Miracoli restrictions apply as to whom can drive there (zone di traffico limitato). It is often not clear where these restrictions apply exactly.
Pisa Airport is officially called Galileo Galilei, after an Italian physicist, philosopher and astronomer who was born in Pisa. The airport is located just 2 kilometers from the city, right on the motorway Florence-Pisa-Livorno, which connects to the A-12 to Genua.