To Pisa or Not

Jan 27th, 2005, 05:08 PM
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To Pisa or Not

We're planning a 10 night trip to Italy with the following Itinerary...
3 nights in Rome .... train to Florence,
3 nights in Florence....
rent a car for 4 nights in Tuscany countryside

I've read mixed reviews on going to Pisa to see the Tower. Is it worth the trip?

Mlgostyla is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:19 PM
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Its worth perhaps half a day. I combined it with Lucca as a daytrip from Florence.
platzman is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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We were in Pisa last summer for half a day. I thought it was worth it to see the eight-story tower up close, rather than "seeing" it only in textbooks and postcards. I also enjoyed visiting the very beautiful cathedral next door, with its graceful arches and unusual bronze doors.

The town itself was very touristy, bordering on tacky. But it did have a street-long market with some interesting souvenirs to purchase, esp. if you have kids in tow.
Weadles is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Well now, lets consider this. Hummmm.... is it worth it? It depends. Yup, it really does.

If somebody has their heart set on seeing THE leaning tower, then probably. But it also depends on what you would give up doing by going to Pisa instead. The tower itself is impressive (and you can buy tickets to walk up to the top, if tickets happen to be available). But the walls around the complex is almost like a disneyland with hundreds of vendors selling little plastic replicas and anything else you can think of.

There is actually more to Pisa than the leaning tower. I just haven't discovered it, so maybe somebody else can offer some comments.

Infotrack is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:37 PM
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You should really try to see it, if for no other reason than to have your photo taken in the famous "holding up the tower" pose. But besides that, it is really amazing to actually see, no books or photos can realy prepare you for seeing an 8 story building leaning. And it will only take you about an hour most then you can be off to Lucca which is really wonderful. Makes for a great day, we did it with time to spare.
Lisa S
Lisa1271 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:42 PM
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I usually suspect that when people say the town is tacky or touristy, they never saw the city -- just the area around the Tower. Sure it is touristy there.

But we spent two nights in Pisa, downtown on the river, and found it a vibrant and interesting city, almost totally devoid of tourists except for that little area out by the tower. I've always thought it was because we spent two nights there before moving on for three nights in Florence, that made me dislike Florence as a city so much. Florence is totally about tourists in the center of town, Pisa is totally about being a working city.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about what Florence has to offer the tourists, only what it was like as a city itself. There was something very alive about being the only English speaking people in a couple of restaurants, and being the only non locals having breakfast at a local cafe. That was Pisa, and I've never come across anywhere else quite like it -- although maybe Lecce comes close.
Patrick is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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We went to Pisa as a sidetrip from Florence and didn't regret it at all. And yes, it is touristy, but the tower and the buildings around it are unique, and it was really exciting seeing something you've only seen in pictures.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 06:12 PM
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I'm completely with Patrick on this, but nobody seems to be listening. Get away from the Campo dei Miracoli (after you get a look at the tower and the Bapistry) and you'll find a vibrant, lovely University town.
Grasshopper is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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MIgostyla: If you can examine the three buildings that make up the Campo dei Miracoli as the wonderful examples of Pisan Architecture that they are, you will have a very worthwhile experience. Certainly, the Tower is a novelty, but there is much more to appreciate than the characature it has become.
There are no tacky stands in the city of Pisa. You have to get away from the Tower; walk toward town, cross the River Arno and you will find a very enjoyable city with streets, shops, reastaurants and cafes that are there for the local Italians. Not a tourist in site. We also stayed two days and thoroughly enjoyed just living among the locals. Delightful City.
joegri is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 08:52 PM
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I, too, agree with Patrick. Pisa holds far more interest than the tower. Get away from the tower and you'll find much more than you bargained for. So, yes, it's worth a trip to Pisa to see the tower - but do some research and see even more of Pisa.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 03:36 AM
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yes, I have to come out in favour of visiting Pisa too and also taking the opportunity to wander the streets leading down to the Arno. We've stayed in Pisa twice and loved it - it give the feeling of being in a 'real' Italian city - off the beaten track once you moved from the aptly named 'Field of Miracles'. Our only regret was we didn't manage to take it in when we went to Italy last year, but we'll certainly go back again sometime.
Mairead04 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 04:04 AM
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I really laugh about comments about a place being too touristy. You want to avoid tourists, go to Bangeladesh. Or Cleveland. Tourists are usually there because there is something to see. At any rate, in Pisa that people hawking tourist shlock are at least kept away from the tower in neat row and are not in your face like in most other places. They don't come up and pester you like on the Spanish Steps.

Pisa is a definate yes. There is more than the tower. The cathedral and baptistry are also great. The town itself has little to offer.

The common trip is to go to Lucca in the morning and Pisa in the PM. Lucca has absolutely nothing to see. It's the most overrated tourist place that I've ever visited. But at least you can say that you've been there.
metellus is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 04:43 AM
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I guess this just goes to show how bad my Italian is! We visited Pisa with an Italian-speaking driver, and didn't realize that there was anything more to see than the immediate area around the tower. So any comments I made about tackiness really don't apply to the "real" town.

One more thing: I do have to agree with the other poster who thought Lucca was an overrated destination. We were very disappointed after hearing such raves about the town. What did we miss??
Weadles is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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I think everyone who visits Italy should see the leaning tower once. I saw it on my first trip to Italy in the 60s but haven't returned on subsequent trips. It is well worth seeing combined with the cathedral. That said, there is so much more of interest in Florence and the Tuscan countryside that you will have to make trade offs if you take the time to go to Pisa.
mamc is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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With this short a trip,I vote no. If you were planning on visiting Lucca, make this a couple hour diversion.You might also hit Vinci (if you are a huge fan of the man).
However,I can't see choosing Pisa over so many of the other Tuscan towns.
jabez is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Patrick is right on--Pisa is an interesting university town (the University has close to 50,000 students). It is a shame that people judge the entire city by the carnival atmosphere in the immediate vicinity of the Tower.

The University has the oldest (as I remember) botanical garden in Europe, not far from the tower.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 06:51 AM
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I say yes, go. I loved Pisa and the tower. It is incredible to see something in front of you that you have only seen in pictures all your life. And I loved the tacky stuff. Where else can you get grappa in a mini Leaning Tower? It's part of the fun.
And, the cathedral is beautiful.
Tries2PakLite is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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I vote with the majority.

On our visit we arrived in the early afternoon and stayed at the wonderful Princess Victoria Hotel right on the river.

See the tower but then stay the night and get a real feel for a wonderful small city. Don't just walk down to the Arno; cross it and stroll into the heart of the city. It is filled with quiet charm and a vibrancy you miss in other tourist-overrun spots.

Our impromtu 20-hour visit provided us with some of the warmest, happiest memories from our three-week tour of Italy.

Pilchard is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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I also think the tower is worth seeing. We tried to find the better side of Pisa but were unable. Personally there are a lot of towns in Italy that I liked better. Like Lucca! I guess I don't understand how you can not like it. Sure, there's not much that by itself is a destination but the town overall and the ambience are great. Of course, we went with our kids and there's a great playground there as well as the Piazza San Michelle where they could play with the pigeons.
MonicaRichards is online now  
Jan 28th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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The Tower was great. Pisa is a dump in my opinion. I would combine a trip here with a trip to lucca for a short day from Florence.
chris1234 is offline  

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