A couple of days ago we travelled from Florence through to Sarzana (which is just out of Cinque Terre), passing directly through Pisa in the process. Both Nathan and I remember being intrigued by the Leaning Tower of Pisa as youngsters but as adults we’d been told by a number of people that the tower and town itself barely warrant going out of your way to see.
So with that in mind, is it worth making the trip to see the Leaning Tower?
If you’re passing through the area, absolutely. Granted, we both appreciate a good bridge/tunnel/building/insert-amazing-engineering-structure-here, but even so, we’re of the belief that for most people it is worth seeing.
Construction began on this marble bell tower back in 1173 and it wasn’t long before the soft ground and inadequate foundation gave in to gravity. Over the next two hundred years, building continued, as did the pitch of the lean, until the late 90’s when the Tower of Pisa was finally stabilised and the lean slightly corrected.
Looking at the Leaning Tower in person, it was surprising to learn that the pitch of the tower is less than it used to be, as the first thing that hit us as we rounded the corner to the tower was how impressive the lean actually was – it was significantly greater than we were expecting!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was the third structure to be built within Pisa’s Cathedral Square and these other buildings are definitely worth a look too. The church itself is a gorgeous cathedral, inspiring the design of the Leaning Tower, whilst the baptistery’s sheer size impresses. The grass area behind the cathedral also provides some much needed shade away from the masses snapping photos and is a lovely place to relax.
Pisa as a town was bigger than we were expecting, but there is no doubt that the infamous tower is the main drawcard to the area. We arrived into Pisa by train at 9.30am and caught the 2.05pm departure which was more than enough time to walk to and from the tower, stop for breakfast and lunch and relax on the grass near the tower – to be honest it was probably a touch too long.
We’d recommend booking yourself a ticket out of Pisa a few hours earlier than us… if you have a great time and want to stay longer, all of the local train tickets can be used up to four hours after the ticketed time, but they cannot be used any earlier (eg. if you book to leave at 12.30pm, you can leave any time up until 4.30pm). There’s no real need to spend the night here unless you want to as a way of breaking up a serious journey.
… and as a parting shot, here’s the quintessential ‘holding up the Leaning Tower’ photo, because as much as we thought we wouldn’t, it just didn’t feel right walking away until we snapped one!