If you're planning a trip to Italy, chances are you've heard of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
But where exactly is Pisa located in Italy?
In this guide you'll find everything there's to know about Pisa's location, what to see in the city, and what to visit around Pisa.
Where is Pisa in Italy?
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, a region in central Italy known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage.
It is situated on the banks of the river Arno, about 80 kilometers west of Florence and about 20 kilometers from the coast of the Ligurian Sea.
Because of its position, Pisa is the perfect spot to use as a base when visiting Italy.
It's close to many other historic cities, to the stunning Tuscany sea, and to the Apennine Mountains area.
Pisa's history has always depended on its strategic position in the Italian peninsula.
Pisa's history dates back to the Etruscan era, when it was a small settlement located along the banks of the Arno River.
It grew in importance during the Roman era, becoming a thriving commercial center and an important port city.
However, it was during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that Pisa reached its golden age.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, Pisa became one of the four Maritime Republics of Italy, along with Genoa, Venice, and Amalfi.
It was a powerful city-state with a strong navy, and it controlled a vast trading network that extended throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.
The city was known for its architectural and artistic achievements, as well as its wealth and cultural diversity.
Starting from this period, many of Pisa's famous landmarks, including the Leaning Tower, were constructed.
However, Pisa's fortunes began to decline in the 13th century, when it was defeated by its rival city-state, Genoa, in a series of naval battles.
Pisa never fully recovered from these losses, and it was eventually conquered by Florence in the 15th century.
Under the Florentine rule, Pisa's political and economic power continued to decline, but the city remained an important center of art and culture.
During this period, Pisa was also a center of learning and innovation, home to famous scholars like Galileo Galilei.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
If you want to visit Pisa, chances are that you are mostly interested in the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the most famous monument in the city.
Or, we should say, one of the most famous monuments in Italy!
The building is now part of a UNESCO heritage site and, as its name says, it's famous because it is not perfectly straight.
Even since the Tower was being built, it started to sink under unstable soil, and now it leans at an angle of 3,97 degrees.
If you want to know more about the Tower and its history, read our article THE HISTORY of the LEANING TOWER of PISA.
The Towers is situated in Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as Campo dei Miracoli, or Squares of Miracles, in the very heart of Pisa.
The monument is open every day, but its opening hours can vary, and some restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of its visitors.
For example, entrance is not allowed to anyone under 8 years old, and you can't take backpacks and big bags inside.
Just remember: to climb the Tower you have to climb many steps, so be ready!
Do you want to know how many steps you'll climb?
Head to our article HOW many steps are in the Leaning Tower of Pisa?.
What else to see in Pisa?
But your visit to Pisa shouldn't end with the Tower!
The city offers many other attractions, starting from the Square of Miracles itself.
You don't have to go far from the Tower to visit other wonderful monuments!
The Tower was actually built as a bell tower for Pisa's main cathedral, the Cattedrale of Santa Maria Assunta, whose interior is decorated with stunning mosaics, frescoes, and sculptures, including works by artists like Andrea Pisano and Giovanni Pisano.
Next to it is The Baptistery of San Giovanni, the largest baptistery in Italy, famous for the large mosaic that decorates its dome.
But the interesting sites in Pisa don't end with Santa Maria Assunta and the Baptistery!
Other sites worth visiting when in Pisa are:
- the "Camposanto Monumentale", the monumental cemetery, is located next to the cathedral and is known for its beautiful Gothic architecture;
- the "Museo dell'Opera del Duomo", a museum that houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts related to the cathedral and its history;
- "Palazzo Blu", famous for its blue façade, an elegant Renaissance palace home to a museum of art and history called BLU - Centro d'Arte e Cultura;
- the Botanical Gardens of Pisa, home to a wide variety of plant species from all over the world and a great place to relax after a day passed discovering the city.
How many days should you spend in Pisa?
The number of days you should spend in Pisa ultimately depends on your interests and travel plans.
If you are primarily interested in seeing the iconic Leaning Tower and other main famous landmarks, you can see the highlights of the city in a day or two.
However, if you want to explore Pisa more in-depth and experience its rich history, culture, and cuisine, you may consider spending three or four days in the city.
This will allow you to visit some of the lesser-known attractions and simply walk around enjoying their beauty.
And, maybe, during your explorations, you may find some interesting sites that are not in your travel guide!
If you are planning a trip around Italy or you want to visit Tuscany, then, don't forget to include Pisa in your program.
Even a few hours in the city can be enough to visit some of the most famous monuments in the world and fall in love with Pisa!
What to see around Pisa?
Pisa is situated in a central and strategic position in Italy, allowing its visitors to easily reach a lot of other interesting sites.
How many you'll be able to visit depends on how much time you can spend and how far you are willing to travel. Some stunning landmarks are less than one hour away, while some other interesting cities or sites may require some hours to get to.
The main cities you can visit from Pisa are:
- Florence, one of the most popular cities in Tuscany and in the whole country, is the capital of the Italian Renaissance, and home to artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. It is known for its stunning architecture, world-famous art museums, and delicious Tuscan cuisine. Some of the top attractions in Florence include the Uffizi Gallery, the Florence Cathedral, and the Ponte Vecchio.
- Siena, a beautiful medieval city located southeast of Pisa, mostly know for the famous Palio di Siena horse race. Some of the top attractions in Siena include Piazza del Campo, the Siena Cathedral, and the Palazzo Pubblico.
- San Gimignano, a picturesque hilltop town located in the heart of Tuscany and known for its medieval architecture, including its famous towers, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Some of the top attractions include the Piazza della Cisterna, the Palazzo del Podestà, and the Collegiate Church.
- Lucca, a charming medieval city located east of Pisa, known for its historic center, which is surrounded by ancient walls that are now a popular destination for cycling and walking. Some of the top attractions in Lucca include the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, the Guinigi Tower, and the San Martino Cathedral.
If you prefer to be surrounded by nature, you can also visit:
- Cinque Terre, a stunning coastal area in the region of Liguria, is located just 90 km (56 miles) north of Pisa and is known for its colorful fishing villages, rugged cliffs, and crystal-clear waters. It is a popular destination for hiking, swimming, and enjoying the beautiful scenery;
- the Chianti wine region, known for its beautiful countryside, charming villages, and world-renowned wine. Visitors can take tours of local wineries, enjoy delicious Tuscan cuisine, and explore the picturesque landscape.
- San Rossore Nature Reserve, a nature reserve located just outside of Pisa and is a popular destination for hiking, bird-watching, and horseback riding. It's home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, wild boar, and foxes.
- the Garfagnana, a mountainous and hilly area located northeast of Pisa, near the border with Emilia-Romagna, known for its stunning scenery, including the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Visitors can hike, bike, or horseback ride through the area, or explore charming towns such as Barga and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.
For more information on how long to stay in Pisa and what to visit, you can read our article "How long to stay in Pisa".