Planning a solo trip to Pisa, Italy? Here’s a quick guide you can lean on:
- A small city in western Tuscany, Pisa (pi:za) has a population of ~110,000.
- Known worldwide for its historic Leaning Tower (built by architect Bonanno Pisano), a freestanding bell-tower with a height of 55.86 meters (183.3 feet).
- Located on the right bank of the mouth of river Arno, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
- Pisa is packed with monuments and historical buildings dating back hundreds of years.
- Renowned for the University of Pisa, which is among the top universities in Italy.
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: Italian.
- Best time to visit: from April to October (summers can be quite warm).
- Arriving via airport: the Galilei Airport is located 1 km away from the city centre, easily walkable on foot. The CPT (Compagnia Pisani Transporti) connects the airport to the city center. Ticket costs EUR 1.50 for a single journey and can be bought from the automatic ticket machine (EUR 2.50 if purchased on board). The ticket is valid for one hour on the entire city network.
- Taxis are also available (the ride is around five minutes).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Pisa Train Station Hostel. Aptly named (just a 2 minute walk from the train station), this is a small, cozy place that’s perfect for a quick stay. Clean, comfortable beds, and free tea/coffee.
- Anywhere around the city center, behind the tower.
- The Pisa hill is also a popular destination for a high-end stay. There are several mansions on the road along the hills.
- Pisa is a small city and can be easily navigated on foot. The CPT (Compagnia Pisani Transporti) is the main transport company which operates the local transport system of the city. Bus fare within the town network is EUR 1.50, and the tickets are valid for 1 hour. Tickets can be bought at a tobacconist’s, airport, or at a newsstand. When bought on board, tickets are EUR 2.50.
- A boat service operated by Navicello offers Pisa Lungarni tours (from April to October).
- Taxis can be called at +39 050 54160, 39 050 541 600, or +39 050 555330. The main taxi company is Radio Taxi Pisa.
- Drinking age is 19, last call is 2:00 AM.
- Hip/local scene: The area around the river banks has several bars, and is especially active during the summer months.
- Trendy scene: Start your night at one of the aperitivo bars, open from around 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM. Check out the Versilia Coast, 10 km away from the city. The trendiest discos of the city are in Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi.
- College crowd: La Borsa is a club popular among the younger (university) crowd.
- Great bars for solo travelers: Tree, The Violin Irish Pub, The Scare Crow, Chupiteria, and Bar Mocambo.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre Pendente di Pisa) is located in Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as the Field of Miracles, north of central Pisa. Construction of the tower began in 1173, and it started leaning soon thereafter. The tower is open to visitors – climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city (ticket price: 15 EUR).
- Duomo – the Cathedral of Pisa, built in Romanesque style, is located in the Field of Miracles. It contains artwork by Della Robbia, Giambologna, and others. The Battistero (Baptistery) is also located alongside the Cathedral.
- Museo del Opera del Duomo – contains sculptures and paintings that were formerly preserved in the duomo and cemetery. Also features antique bronze griffins, brought over by the Crusaders from Syria.
- The Campo Santo Monumentale is a cemetery building with an extensive collection of ancient art and medieval frescoes.
- Museo delle Sinopie. Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, this museum contains sketches and murals from Pisa’s Campo Santo.
- Walk along the tree-lined boulevard running along the river (just outside the city center).
- Walk from the Ponte della Vittoria to the impressive Church of San Michele degli Scalzi. Walk along the church to the old industrial estate – observe the contrast between the modern buildings and the Romanesque architecture of the old church.
- Walk the off-beaten path of La Piagge to get a real taste of the city, away from the major tourist attractions.
- Stroll around the many walled gardens of the city scattered throughout the center. The University Botanical Garden at Via Luci Ghini (from the 16th century) is a must-see.
- Tip: if you don’t know Italian, bring along a pocket dictionary. It will come really handy anywhere in Italy, as English is not spoken widely.
- Italians are usually warm and welcoming people and they love to relax and socialize. It will not be difficult to find friendly Tuscans!
- Great restaurants to try: Ristorante Pizzeria La Clessidra, Ristorante Capodimonte Pisa, Cantina Vasari, Osteria di Culegna.
- Where to find good cheap eats: head to Piazza dei Miracoli for good reasonably priced restaurants and pizzerias. Numeroundici in Via San Martino and Ristorante Vineria Di Piazza in Piazza delle Vettovaglie both serve great food at a reasonable price. For pizza: Pizzeria Le Mura (multiple locations) or Pizzeria SM Pizza.
- Dangerous areas: Pisa is a very safe city. Just to be extra safe, avoid the neighbourhood around the train station at night.
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days