Best time of day to visit Tower of Pisa?

Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:14 PM
  #1  
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Best time of day to visit Tower of Pisa?

Hi all,

We are planning to do a day trip from our villa near Florence to visit Lucca and Pisa for the day in July. We are 2 adults and 2 school-age children.

I know that we can PRE-purchase tickets to climb the tower (for ages 8 and up).

What is the best time to book our tickets?

We also plan to combine this activity with a visit to Lucca (renting bikes and touring the walls).

I know there are other sites to probably see in Pisa but we are really going to fulfill DD's dream to see "the leaning tower of pizza"!

Any tips greatly appreciated.

Lisa
jacolis is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:58 PM
  #2  
 
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Go to Lucca first then onto Pisa.

Great photo ops at Pisa in the late afternoon before sunset (actual time depends on what time of year you'll be there, obviously).
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Apr 23rd, 2013, 06:24 PM
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How are you getting to Pisa and Lucca?

The Campo dei Miracoli will get very crowded, so I'd probably go there early or late in the day. The first Tower entry is at 8:00 a.m., but how early can you realistically get there? And where would you prefer to have dinner, Pisa or Lucca?
Jean is offline  
Apr 27th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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We have a rental car and are staying in Lastra a Signa outside Florence. I think I read that the ZTLs are more straightforward in Pisa and Lucca so we were thinking of driving rather than taking the train.

We tend to be up early as we have kids. So we could be in Pisa for 8 am if that is the best time to be there and then hit Lucca for lunch.

It will be July so I imagine it will be hot and sunny. Maybe we should do biking on walls first thing and aim for late afternoon tickets in Pisa....

I was hoping to be back in FLR at the villa for dinner as it will be a long day with the kids.

Thanks.
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Apr 27th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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http://www.opapisa.it/it/organizza-la-tua-visita/biglietteria-online.html>>

here's the booking website. [the official one]. i couldn't get the english version to work but i think that this one os fairly self-explanatory. you want the biglietteria per i turisti button, and then the "Torre pendente" [ie leaning tower]

at the moment it's showing tickets only for a week in mid-May, so you'll have to keep monitoring it. the earliest time i found on May 16th was 8.30 am. if you could get to Pisa for that time you'd probably avoid the worst of the crowds - give yourselves 10 mins to collect tickets and deposit any bags in the lockers by the ticket office.

the whole of the "campo dei miracoli" is indeed miraculous, and to my mind managed to transcend even the worst excesses of the hawkers and tourists that beset it.
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Apr 27th, 2013, 05:56 PM
  #6  
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Ok thanks we will keep checking the booking site. We could be in Pisa for 830 and then head to Lucca for lunch and biking.
jacolis is online now  
Apr 27th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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The Tower of Pisa is kind of a non-event IMO. A tourist moment of the worst sort. But the town is actually very interesting and has lots more to offer, if you're interested.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 28th, 2013, 01:50 AM
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i'm going to disagree with St Cirq on this occasion. it's quite interesting to climb it, and irresistible for kids. but the think that makes it for me is the rest of the area with the other fantastic buildings that make up the campo.

I do agree that the rest of the city is quite interesting too.
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Apr 28th, 2013, 03:37 AM
  #9  
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So do you recommend that we have lunch in Pisa or in Lucca? My girls are fairly active so that is why I was thinking we should head to Lucca for lunch and biking the walls afterwads. But, if there are other things in Pisa that we shouldn't miss (over spending more time in Lucca) we could do that.

I should note that it is just the older daughter who is old enough to climb the tower (as she is 8). I will likely be grabbing a cornetto with the 6 year old and wandering around the Piazza dei Miracolei. Any recommended patisserie place nearby?

I have read the lunch options near the Tower itself are not good so I presume we would have to head away from that area.
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Apr 28th, 2013, 04:26 AM
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if you were to get the train from Pisa centrale [where your train will come into from Florence] to Pisa San Rossore, you could then walk back to Centrale from the Piazza, stopping either to eat, or to get some things to eat on the way to Lucca.

however, I see that you are intending to drive, which complicates matters somewhat. most italian cities have ZTL or zones of limited traffic which means that if you stray into them, you can be fined heavily. parking may also be difficult. here's a map which shows you the traffic zones:

https://secure.comune.pisa.it/tzi/info.jsp

there is an english site, but I couldn't find this webpage on it.

if there is a convenient station near where you are going to be staying, I think that's what I'd do.

there is a cafe on the corner of the piazza which we found surprisingly nice and reasonable for coffee and spremuta [freshly squeezed orange or other juice] but I don't think that anyone would recommend that you eat a meal near the piazza - it's just too hit or miss.
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Apr 28th, 2013, 06:19 AM
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Your plan of visiting the tower in Pisa early sounds good - that leaves you free for lunch in Lucca (La Buca di San Antonio has very nice food if you aren't on a strict budget) and as long as you want bicycling on the walls, which I would definitely do with kids. Lucca is more of a lingering kind of place than Pisa.
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Apr 28th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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Hello Lisa,
I think the best time is at the sunset, because Monti Pisani get a very beatiful golden color, especially during summer.

On the other hand, if you plan to visit both Lucca and Pisa in one day, then a good choice is Pisa early in the morning, and then go to Lucca for the lunch.
In July could be very hot, and biking on the city walls in the afternoon is a good choice, because of the shadow of the big trees. And then you can have a "gelato" ...

Although Florence, Pisa and Lucca are well connected by the train, I think that the car is the only option in order to visit both cities in one day.
Don't worry about the ZTL: Pisa is a small town and the ZTL is limited to the city center.
You can set your navigation tool to via Tino di Camaino: it's very near to Piazza dei Miracoli, and I think you can easily find a car park there.
Ciao
Carlo
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Apr 28th, 2013, 08:17 AM
  #13  
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Molto grazie everyone!

I think we will try and aim for Pisa first thing since I think sunset could be late in July.

We will drive and book the earliest tickets we can. Then drive to Lucca, have llunch (will check out that recommended place - La Buca di San Antonio) and rent bikes for afternoon + gelato stop.

I gather the bike places rent bike attachments (my youngest cannot bike on her own). Is the Poli the recommended bike place?
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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Glad to hear that you will be driving, as that will lend itself to spontanaety and enable you to see some beautiful countryside.

Regarding the ZTL - both are very manageable in both Lucca and Pisa. The important thing to remember is NOT to go past/enter the historic wall fortifications (not something you can easily miss!)

Here is a map of Pisa http://www.italy-map.net/maps/map_pisa.php Find the Duomo on the north (top) side of the Arno River...you will note that the street on the "good" side of the historic wall is Via Contessa Matilde. Look slightly up and to the right and you will see a big open-air sports arena...there is a nice parking lot next to it. Zoom in and you will see that from Via Contessa Matilde you want to turn right onto Via Piave, if you are coming from the east. Go about 200 metres and turn right. The parking entrance will be immediately on your right. Though the neighborhood doesn't look great and there are a lot of foreigners selling tissues in the parking lot, it is very safe and affordable. Buy a ticket and put it in your windshield. Follow the sidewalk along the parking lot towards the Dome (you can see it from the parking lot) Cross through the wall's portal, turn right, and alora! you are there.-it's a 10 minute walk from this parking lot to the Duomo but most tourists don't know it's there. GPS is very beneficial, but some don't warn you of the ZTL and will send you in anyway, so beware of the wall and you'll be fine. You also will be in a favorable direction to just head further north to Lucca.

I think you are smart to start with Pisa, which requires reservations for the tower, enjoy the Campo dei Miracoli's broad perspective, do the silly photo-op of the kids/family holding up the tower (I know, it's cheezy but once there, you'll admit it's fun for the kids). While the Duomo church is spectacular, there are also a lot of churches in Lucca that are worthy of a visit AND you've just come from Florence with its churches, so if I was going to do a second visit of something I would personally visit the Cemetery. It is actually a relatively quick visit but fascinating and beautiful at the same time. The kids will find all the skulls and crosses on the floors and walls pretty interesting I bet. Also, people complain about the touristy souvenir stands, but if you're into Tea Towels as gifts, they are actually the cheapest here on the Field of Miracles.

Or, since you won't be seeing much of Pisa, do consider taking a horse carriage tour of the old town. They leave right from the Campo dei Miracoli near the leaning Tower and cost 50 euros. Some people may consider that steep, but it is a very enjoyable 40 minutes or so and you do get to see a lot of the famous buildings, palaces, piazzas and the Arno River (imo, best photography angles are actually from facing backwards, not forwards--you'll have the Tower/Duomo in view as you depart)

I really love Lucca. Parking is all around the exterior of the old wall but be patient..sometimes you have to drive around to find a space freeing up. The old town is so small that it doesn't really matter where you park, imo. Just try to have a map of Lucca as the view from the wall makes it look pretty easy to find a site, but once down off the wall, it can be pretty confusing in the "warren" of narrow old streets!
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Apr 29th, 2013, 02:36 PM
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Thanks for all of this. I will have a look at the Cemetary. I also noticed a museum of ancient boats (some kind of archeological type site). Can anyone personally recommend this as a place to visit with kids? If it is really fabulous I would consider cutting into the Lucca time... if not, we will likely head to Lucca for lunch and biking.
jacolis is online now  
Apr 29th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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Our kids loved climbing the Tower - one caveat is that there isn't really any information about the tower and it has an interesting history. I asked the kids to do reports before we go on a trip and one did the Tower - for example, did you know construction was stopped for about 100 years due to ongoing wars? And had that not happened and the ground didn't settle during those years, it would have most likely collapsed? When you climb it, you can really feel the lean in the steps, too. (And there are a different amount of steps on the different sides).

We stayed in Lucca ... and loved it. We rented bikes and rode them around the city walls - we enjoyed so much the first lap, we took a second lap (although one kid didn't want to... she got bribed with a 2nd scoop of gelato). We weren't sure how long to pay for bikes and the bike shop told us to just take them and we'd figure it out when we got back. I don't know if we ate if any restaurants though because we had an apartment. Lucca is very fun to just wander around in - it is unique with its walls in that sense. Yet, it isn't as touristy as San Gimignano - has a "real town" feel to it.

have a great trip!
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Jul 24th, 2013, 10:40 AM
  #17  
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Hi all,

We are back from our trip and I just wanted to thank you all for your input.

We got to Pisa early as planned and were able to secure tickets for the tower climb for one daughter (who is 8 and could therefore climb up the tower) and my DH. I have to say that I was skeptical that it was worth it to visit the Tower but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!
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Jul 24th, 2013, 10:43 AM
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Whoops sorry - hit submit too soon!

Even though my younger daughter and I couldn't climb up, it was really a sight to behold! It really does lean! We enjoyed our coffee and cornetto in the shadow of the tower and also checked out the other beautiful buildings on the Campo. I am really glad we included Pisa in our itinerary.

Lucca was probably my favourite city we visited in Italy. We loved renting bikes and biking on the ramparts (we too had to do the gelato bribe for the second lap but totally worth it!). I would love to return to Lucca and also visit some of the nearby villas and towns (ie Montecatini Alto, etc).

Grazie for all of your assistance. We had no problems finding parking and avoiding the dreaded ZTLs thanks to your very helpful information.

Lisa
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Jul 24th, 2013, 11:39 AM
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great, jacolis - so pleased you enjoyed Pisa, and had such a good trip to Italy.
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Jul 24th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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glad it all worked out... and that your thoughts of Lucca were similar. It really feels like a neat town!
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