There is more to Pisa than the Leaning tower. The city is one of the top places to visit in Italy for many reasons. If you spend some time wondering in Pisa you will discover its charm, gastronomy and traditions.
Piazza dei Miracoli is certainly worth a stop. While others strike a pose for snapshots pretending to “hold” the Leaning tower, head to the stunning 13th century Camposanto Monumentale, the old cemetery at the northern edge of the piazza. The legend has it that that this final resting place for distinguished citizens was built on a layer of soil brought by Crusaders from Golgotha. In the Frescoes Room (Sala Affreschi) you can see a couple of spectacular 14th century frescoes.
Few tourists know that there are other leaning towers in Pisa apart from the famous one on Piazza dei Miracoli. The octagonal bell tower of the Chiesa di San Nicola and the tower at the church of San Michele degli Scalzi do not gather large crowds around them but are certainly worth a visit.
To continue your tour of the city’s art treasures pop in to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo that is housed in 13th-century Benedictine convent. It has an impressive collection of medieval masterpieces of paintings from the Tuscan school stunning 14th- and 15th-century Pisan sculptures.
Walking along the Arno river in Pisa is a great way to see parts of the city that are often missed by visitors. Medieval churches, Renaissance palaces, old bridges tell a story of Pisa’s glorious past.
If you happen to stumble across one city’s spaghetterie make sure you sample delicious handmade pasta for which Tuscany is famous. The locals love Alle Bandierine restaurant with its great variety of spaghetti dishes and fresh seafood. At Antica Trattoria Da Bruno you can devour such local specialties as zuppa alla pisana (thick bean and kale soup), seppie in zimino (squid stew) and stoccafisso alla pisana (salted cod stew). Pisa is a university city, so you will easily find simple trattorie that serve hearty dishes at affordable prices.
Photos by: Paolo Alfieri, Valeria Randazzo, Jose Maria Cuellar