When in Florence, you must do this half day Florence to Pisa tour. Pisa is the host to one of the great architectural wonders of the world – the Leaning Tower. And hence, it is every one’s dream destination. Pisa is located quiet close to Florence, to be precise, just about 85 kilometers. And there are multiple ways to embark on a Florence to Pisa tour. That include taking one of the frequent local trains that take just around an hour to reach Pisa, frequent bus service and even guided tours as well in groups big and small. When we visited Florence during our recent trip to Europe , Pisa had to be a part of the itinerary.
Our half day Florence to Pisa tour
After looking at the distance, time taken to reach and other factors, we decided half a day was sufficient to visit Pisa. We instructed our travel agents to book train tickets to Pisa and entrance tickets to the leaning tower. But unfortunately, they didn’t follow our instructions. They instead booked for us a round bus trip for our Florence to Pisa tour. Nevertheless, after having done a beautiful walking tour of Florence the day before and another one right in the morning the next day, we were in high spirits to start our half day Florence to Pisa tour.
However, there was a little initial drama before the start of the trip. The tour operators did not clearly mentioned the location from where the bus left. So, we struggled a little before we finally locating our bus at the end moment. And thereafter, began our Florence to Pisa tour, which, by all means, we were on the verse of missing (more on it some other time, but the zest is that book your own tickets and head conveniently on your Florence to Pisa tour).
Through the scenic Tuscany on Florence to Pisa tour
The beauty of Tuscany is well known across the world. However, still it stuns you when you see it for the first time. And the same happened with us. As our bus left the premises of Florence and embarked on a journey towards Pisa. Soon, we were confronted with beautiful green farmlands, small clusters of houses making tiny villages on the foothills and green meadows stretching all the way from the hills to the highway. It’s difficult to capture the beauty of the tuscany countryside in words.
On our Florence to Pisa tour, we passed through several small settlements, factories and nurseries. Each village seems to have a major occupation of it’s own. And the guide on-board the bus was telling us about each one of them as we passed through them. There is one village blessed with a long lifespan. Where almost every elder person is now celebrating their post 100th birthday. And then there is yet another one that is marked with beautiful nurseries and flower fields. This one supplies blooming plants to all over Italy and different parts of Europe. We also crossed a small airport, a car manufacturing unit and several other remarkable spots before entering into the town of Pisa.
The beautiful town of Pisa
Pisa is a small town. It is beautiful. As you enter in the premises of the town, you will clearly be able to make out the difference from Florence, Rome and other bigger cities of Italy. The houses here are very tastefully done. There are a few beautiful eateries lining the main streets. And as soon as you are a little inside the main town, you will start seeing the dome of the cathedral of Pisa.
The lanes of the town are mostly empty. Soon we arrived at our designated parking lot for visiting the leaning tower of Pisa. From here, we all moved in a group towards the Cathedral of Pisa. As we arrived at the gates, we waited a little, while our guide went ahead and got the tickets for us. Once we got our tickets, from now on we were free to embark on our journey inside and explore the whole premises.
Into the campus of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
As we entered inside the campus, I couldn’t help but notice the vast green lawn that stretched in the front. There was a crowd. And a part of it was resting in this ground. Some after having explored the premises. And some others before starting the journey. I also decided to rest here for a while before embarking on further journey. And took up the most difficult of my tasks for the day – that of making my little one eat some snacks. It was quiet nice and relaxing here. I will recommend you bring your own little bag of picnic stuff. And then you can have a great time here. You can sit in the grass, even lay down. Have some food, have some rest and just gaze at the massive structure in front of you.
The Pisa Cathedral
Next began our journey to the Pisa Cathedral. It is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral. It is like a white wonder from outside and a colorful, magnificent cathedral from Inside. While It was developed in 1063 AD. Yet, it reflects a lot of different architectural styles including the classical, Lombard-Emilian, Byzantine, and Islamic. As the Pisan merchants used to travel far and wide, interacting with different cultures. So, the reflection of all those cultures can be seen in the architecture of the Cathedral. While the exteriors of the cathedral consist of primarily marbles, they also include bronze and mosaic. At the same time the interiors are equally beautiful, intricately done in different color stones, metals, wood and glass.
The inside of it’s dome is painted in rare painting techniques.The large mosaic in the apse and the pulpit are famous to have survived a massive fire in the past. There are several other important works of medieval world that are believed to have survived the fire in 1595 miraculously. Apart from it, the whole church is decorated with several paintings and great work of art. Most of them from the medieval times. And depicting the life of Christ. As per historical records, Galelio was baptized here in 1565. Also, the lamp at the center of the nave is called Galileo’s lamp, because a legend says that he formulated his theory of isochronism of the pendulum while watching its oscillations from the roof of the nave here.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Behind the Cathedral of Pisa stands the Leaning tower of Pisa. It is actually a freestanding belltower of the Cathedral of Pisa. As you embark on a Florence to Pisa tour, your imagination will be filled with the envision of this tower. After all, we all have heard so much about it. The white wonder that it is, here are some interesting facts about the tower. Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa took quiet some time. It was started in 1173 and finished in 1399 (more than 2 centuries!!) . And it is the highest leaning tower in the world with a height of almost 60 meters.
How did the Tower of Pisa lean?
As we look at the marvellous leaning tower, and some of us even step inside it. There is one question that comes to all our minds. How did the bell tower of Pisa become leaning in the first place? Well, the word Pisa itself drives the meaning ‘ marshy land ‘ . The land of Pisa is swampy, and soft. As a result, when the construction of such a huge tower began, it went leaning. In fact, it began leaning as soon as the construction reached towards the third storey. By the time further floors were added and the tower completed, it was quiet evident how leaning it had become. As of today, it stands more than 5 meters off perpendicular!!
Post the realization, there were attempts made by architects and engineers to correct the design by making further floors of lesser height and circumference. But since the issue lay in the foundation of the building and not it’s construction, the leaning couldn’t be avoided. It is believed that even the cathedral and baptistry are also slowly sinking. Hats off to the architects that they still managed to make the building stand, and stand through centuries actually.
Tips for your Florence to Pisa tour
- Take a train on your Florence to Pisa tour. Upon arriving at Pisa you can either walk or take a taxi to the Cathedral and the leaning tower. We took the bus. But it was a long weekend. And as a result, we spent far too longer in the traffic, particularly when returning from Pisa.
Food & Water options
- Pack your lunch in Florence itself, if you have a particular choice. Also, if you are vegetarian. As we found the options in Pisa limited. There are restaurants lining the road that leads to the Cathedral, but as obvious, they are pricy with limited menu.
- There is a Mac’D near the Cathedral premises. But is very very crowded at lunch time.
- As usual, keep a bottle of water ready with you. And refill it from the water supply inside the premises of the Cathedral.
- The Mac’D is one amongst the couple of restaurants in this area with a washroom available. So, if you have to use the washroom, be ready to stand in a queue here.
- However, there are adequate paid washrooms available inside the campus as well, on the left hand side of the Cathedral of Pisa.
Dressing and Shoes
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- When we traveled in April, we did require a jacket and full sleeve dresses. Although it was a sunny day but the chilly wind was blowing.
- If you want to collect some souvenirs, there are plenty of shops just outside the main campus. These sell different products big and small. The theme is mostly dominated by the leaning tower of Pisa. You can find it’s miniature version in the form of show pieces, key chains, freeze magnets and many others. Besides, wooden toys, key chains, show pieces made of wood and other metals are also there. We didn’t browse extensively so, not sure of the price compared to outside of Pisa.
When you are with kids
- Keep minimum half a day apart for this trip. Besides enjoying your time in the Cathedral and the Leaning tower, you might as well like to sit in the lawn and enjoy your day, just lazying around and marveling the structures from a distance. And your kid will also get some rest.
- You can’t take smaller kids (perhaps less than 8 years or so) and toddlers inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa due to safety concerns.
- You can bring along a stroller if you like. However, you will be navigating up and down the stairs along the Cathedral which might pose a little inconvenience to you.
- Keep your stock of snacks to munch on for the kid. The queues to the entrance can be long, so can be the ones for the ticket.