The fourth port we docked in on our Mediterranean cruise aboard Carnival Vista was Livorno which is a short coach ride from Pisa and Florence.
We made the decision to just visit Pisa and take the kids along for the ride as it was a relatively short excursion in comparison to some.
We parked in a car park at the edge of the town and hopped onboard a trolley (land train), which took us on a bumpy ride around the town, showing us the sights before ending up in Miracle Square itself.
I never realised that there was so much to see in Pisa and we barely scratched the surface. The town itself if surrounded by a stunning Roman Wall.
Pisa is built along the river Arno, which reaches the sea only few miles from the town and the medieval Tower Houses, noble palaces are spectacular.
Our guide was brilliant, pointing out what each building was and had hosted famous artists such as Lord Byron and P.B. Shelley.
But it was the Piazzo dei Miracoli that drew gasps of amazement. I had only ever seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in pictures but Miracle Square in its entirety is simply spectacular.
The immaculate walled lawns provide a gorgeous setting for the Cathedral, Baptistry, Monumental Cemetery and Tower and it was the Baptistry we visited first.
If you look closely at the roof you will notice the different tiles on either side of the Baptistry’s dome. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a mistake, however, the side covered in terracotta tiles faces towards the sea and acted as landmark for ships before modern day navigation technology.
Inside the Baptistry has outstanding acoustics, with multiple echo effects, claimed to be the most unique in the world. We were lucky enough to witness one of the acoustic demonstrations which are performed few times a day by the guard personnel.
Opposite the Baptistry is the Duomo di Pisa which is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture and dominates Miracle Square.
If you look very closely at the arches outside you can see that this has sunk too and the far end has been built up, leaving a gap between the arches and the ledge.
It is worth remembering that it is a religious building and you are required to cover your shoulders and knees. We did see staff handing out cloaks to tourists to wear inside the building.
You even get to see the Mummy of Saint Rainerius at the altar of the Duomo, the patron saint of Pisa and of travellers.
The “cimitero monumentale”, is the last of the monuments to arise on the Miracle’s Square in Pisa and its long external marble wall, composed of 43 blind arches and two doors, is on the northern boundary defining it thoroughly.
It is a sight not to be missed.
Back outside it was finally time to take in the Bell Tower, or Leaning Tower of Pisa as it is now known.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower that started to lean during construction because the foundation was built on soft ground that had difficulty supporting the weight.
It is worth having a tour guide as you find out that Pisa used to be a port and that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was built on reclaimed land from the sea, hence it started to lean. It has since been straightened by 50cm after it was feared it would collapse.
No visit to Pisa would be without trying to get ‘that’ photo!
I think Hubby did a good one too…..
Sadly, we didn’t get to make it up into the tower as they won’t let children under the age of 8 inside but I can imagine the views would be amazing.
My top tips for visiting Pisa are:
- Make a day of it and explore the town as there are so much to see
- Buy tickets before you get there so you don’t have to queue, especially important if you want to climb to the top of the tower
- Go inside to witness the acoustics inside the Baptistry
- Make sure you wear a top that covers your shoulders and a dress / shorts that cover your knees
- Do not under estimate how busy it will be, if you can go out of season
- Beware of the “looky looky men” – they do not disturb you by the manicured lawns but they can be a little intimidating by the cafes just beyond Miracle Square.