There is so much to see in Florence alone that it’s sometimes hard to justify taking a day trip to the many other Tuscan towns that surround Florence. Since this was my second time in Florence, I decided that taking a half-day trip from Florence to Pisa was the perfect option, as I would still have plenty of time to explore Florence in the evening after seeing the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa for myself.
I’m a big fan of traveling with tour companies for a number of reasons, including simplicity and value! I found this Pisa Tour and decided to join. When booking, I noticed the tour was offered twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. In an attempt to beat the heat, I choose the morning departure which left from the Santa Maria Novella train station at 8:30. Boarding the bus, which was nice enough and comfortable, although lacking a bathroom, we meet our tour guide Brando! We headed away from Florence to Pisa as Brando began telling us some unique facts about Florence. Leaving Florence behind, we listened and laughed, as Brando explained the complicated past relationship between Pisa and Florence. I was so impressed by Brando’s knowledge and his ability to make these facts interesting, it was really clear that he loved his job!
After about an hour and a half drive, we were in Pisa! As we approached the parking lot, we got a glimpse of the Leaning Tower and the Cathedral from the bus! Before we knew it, we were in the impressive Piazza dei Miracoli (Piazza of Miracles) with the Duomo di Pisa and the very large Baptistery standing before us and the many other tourists here to observe the unique tower! The three main structures of the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Baptistery, the Duomo, and the Leaning Tower, were surrounded by manicured green grass and it was easy to see why this area was called Piazza dei Miracoli. The first visit of the day was to the Duomo di Pisa. Brando had told us that it was not guaranteed that we would be able to go inside, but we were lucky enough to enter. Our tour of the church was with a professional guide, which in my opinion really added to the experience. The church was built in 1092 and the interior was so incredibly ornate with tons of arches and paintings. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really expected much from the Cathedral because I was so excited about seeing the Leaning Tower, but I was so pleasantly surprised and very happy to have had a guide to explain the history of this stunning white marble cathedral.
After our interesting tour of the Cathedral, we either had free time to explore, or for those travelers who had added on the entrance to the Leaning Tower (an additional 26 euro for adults), Brando took them to the Tower to start the climb. When booking the trip, I was a little bit hesitant to add the tower entrance, because of the cost. However, I decided to add on the climb despite its high cost. Before I booked this tour, I didn’t even know that you could climb the tower. I just assumed that a structure leaning that much was not climbable, but to my surprise, when booking the tour, I found out it was. Actually, climbing the tower was not allowed until 2001 when engineers re-stabilized the base. Despite this, I would not recommend climbing if you’re claustrophobic or have vertigo. As we were climbing, you could really tell that the tower was leaning. We continued up the steps and we finally reached the top where the view of the Piazza dei Miracoli was breathtaking!! Standing so high, we could see the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and a panoramic view of Pisa.
Each person is allowed approximately 30 minutes inside the tower, which was plenty of time to enjoy the view and make our way back down to the base. To my surprise, going down the steps proved to be more challenging than climbing up. Once we made it to the bottom, I had an even greater appreciation for the tower’s lean and how it managed to stay up! After attempting to take the classic ‘Leaning Tower’ picture between the hordes of tourists was almost more difficult than climbing the tower. Finally, after finding a sliver of space, I got my picture and it was time to meet back up with Brando and the group to head back to the bus. We started our journey back to Florence and arrived at the train station around 1:45! We were just in time to grab lunch and explore the beautiful city of Florence
Pisa tour from Florence Italy: tickets
All in all, this tour was a great half-day trip from Florence. It was informative, hassle-free, and most importantly affordable, the whole trip only cost 75 euro (49 euros for the trip, plus 26 for climbing the tower). Although the price to climb the tour seemed a little bit high, it was worth it to me. I would definitely recommend this tour to other travelers who only have a few days in Tuscany, but want to explore Pisa as well.