Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world for temple seeking. Recently, I was lucky enough to travel to Pisa in Tuscany, with my gorgeous fiance, Simon. The highlight of the trip was our day spent at Piazza dei Miracoli, translating as the square or field of Miracles.
Piazza dei Miracoli
Piazza dei Miracoli consists of the famous leaning tower of Pisa, the Camposanto (graveyard), Baptistry and the Cathedral itself. If you want to fully embrace these buildings and go inside to further explore, I recommend that you spend at least 3 hours there.
Pisa itself is doable as a day-trip from Florence, but I thoroughly recommend at least 2-3 days in Pisa to fully appreciate the architecture and culture.
Piazza dei Miracoli is a UNESCO world heritage site. Get there early in the day to avoid the swarms of tourists that will undoubtedly arrive, and want their photograph taken appearing to push the tower!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
It is possible to go up the Bell Tower, commonly known as the leaning tower of Pisa, for the current price of 18€ (July 2017). Sadly, I didn’t climb the tower, as I’m currently suffering from severe endometriosis and not that mobile. It is certainly my intension to return and climb the tower.
Entrance to the tower of Pisa is free for disabled visitors and their carer, as long as you can provide evidence at the ticket office. This is also the case for the other monuments. School groups get discounts, but sadly, there are no reduced ticket prices, such as student tickets.
If you want a guided tour including a trip up the tower of Pisa, I recommend booking in advance with Viator.
The other three monuments (the Baptistry, Camposanto and Museums) require separate tickets, or you an get a combined ticket for all attractions.
St John’s Baptistry
The Baptistry (often built next to a Church for the purpose of Baptism) is identified as the Romanesque style red domed Church building. Building of the Baptistry commenced in 1153.
Camposanto Monumental is the sacred graveyard of Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa. It is said to be built on holy soil that was bought from Golgotha (place of the skull where Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem) in the 12th Century.
Building of the cloiser commenced in 1284 and was completed in 1464. The complex includes three chapels. The last Chapel, dal Pozzo was dedicated to St Jerome and contains relics including two fragments of Jesus’ cross, a thorn from the crown of thorns and piece of the virgin Mary’s dress.
Camposanto Monumental also houses a collection of 84 sarcophagi (tombs) and religious frescos on the walls dating back to around 1360. Some of the frecoes were sadly destroyed in a fire in 1944.
Pisa Cathedral is a stunning white marble gothic structure, beautifully decorated.
Entrance to Pisa Cathedral is free as it is a place of worship, but you will need to pre-book a ticket with a time slot. If you purchase a ticket for the other three monuments (Baptistry, Camposanto and Museum), then you will be allowed into the Cathedral without a time slot.
Where to Stay in Pisa
We stayed at the basic but comfortable three star Hotel Astor, which had an extremely convenient location for the central train station. If you are looking for something more luxurious, I recommend the Hotel San Raneiri.
Where to Eat in Pisa
If you are willing to venture further away from the main square, you will find that food becomes much better value for money. I found a glorious pizzeria thanks to Tripadvisor called Taverna di Pulcinella.
Day Trips from Pisa
If you’re staying in Pisa, I recommend that you spend one day in Lucca. You can walk the city walls, visit the Duomo and visit the main Piazza dell’Amfiteatro di Lucca. It’s just half an hour North of Pisa and there are direct trains.