Right now, we can’t travel to Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic but we can still dream of upcoming trips to Italy! One of the places that is on almost everyone’s must-see list when visiting Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We visited the tower and the little town of Pisa with our kids, and I encourage you to visit, either in person or virtually!
The town of Pisa is an easy day trip from the tourist mecca of Florence. We took an early morning train from Florence and arrived in Pisa around one hour later. The train station is about a 30-minute walk from the Leaning Tower, through the picturesque and historic little town. We arrived too early for most stores to be open but it did make for a quick walk since we weren’t distracted! It is an easy walk, along medieval streets that take you through the heart of Pisa’s shopping district. Check out Rick Steves’ Italy guidebook for a lovely description of the sights to see along the walk, many rebuilt after the intense bombing of the city during World War II.
Once you arrive at the Field of Miracles, which is what the area around the tower is called, you will be amazed to see the 12th century tower looming before you. It is truly a sight to see, after seeing its image on countless souvenirs over the years. Kids are amazed at how the tower is able to stay standing, even while leaning ever so much. Continue walking to the main side of the tower facing the duomo (cathedral).
You have to take one of the cheesy pictures where the kids “hold up” the leaning tower.
You can buy tickets to go up the tower for an amazing view of the surrounding countryside but we just took in the view from the base, which was enough for us. If you want to ascend the tower or go in any of the other Field of Miracles sites (duomo, baptistry, etc.), I highly recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time here. The duomo is free to enter but you must have a timed ticket. The ticket options also include entry to the Camposanto Cemetery and two museums.
We spent about 30-45 minutes at the Field of Miracles, just walking around the square amidst the throng of tourists. We did not enter any of the paid attractions but still felt like we had seen enough of the area. The square is lined with beautiful buildings that make up the cemetery and the museums. Take some time to wander around and see what catches your interest. Be forewarned, this is one of the most crowded places you will visit in the whole country so be sure to hold tight to little ones and watch your valuables.
As we walked back to the train station, the stores and restaurants were now open so we picked up some gelato and enjoyed the meandering walk. We then headed to the nearby little Tuscan town of Lucca for lunch. Combining a trip to Pisa and Lucca is quite easy to do in one day.
To virtually travel to Pisa during the pandemic, here are some helpful links:
- Rick Steves’ classroom video about Pisa
- Google Arts and Culture 360° picture of the Field of Miracles
- Google Maps tour of Pisa
- Photo of US soldiers entering the Field of Miracles during World War II
As we continue to plan and dream of vacations to come, Pisa is one of those destinations that is on everyone’s list to see. It is a site that I believe children enjoy the most, as they marvel at the structure that seems to be on the verge of toppling to the ground. Even though traveling to Pisa may be a long way off, begin planning today!
- Cost: 18EUR/adults (to ascend tower)
- Recommended: all ages
- Tour time: 30-45 minutes
- Gift shop onsite and dozens of tourist kiosks nearby
- Transportation: Easily accessible from Pisa train station (30-minute walk)
- Dining options nearby: The nearby Via Santa Maria has dozens of touristy restaurants. There are several trattorias on the walk through the center of town as well.
- Nearby hotels: Since Pisa is an easy day trip from Florence, I recommend staying there. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Minerva, and I highly recommend its family suites.
- Nearby attractions include: University of Pisa and Piazza dei Cavalieri, the lovely Tuscan town of Lucca, and the tourist mecca of Florence
Books to Read:
See my booklist for Italy on Bookshop.org, an Amazon alternative that supports independent bookstores. This link is an affiliate link where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Other relevant books not listed in the booklist are: