Darby Day Trip: Pisa

By Andrea CullettoJanuary 18, 2024

Darby Day Trip: Pisa
Only seven miles from Camp Darby, Pisa is a charming city full of fun things to see and do. Known worldwide for its iconic Leaning Tower, Pisa offers visitors a unique blend of historic and contemporary sites. (Photo Credit: Andrea Culletto) VIEW ORIGINAL

Only seven miles from Camp Darby, Pisa is a charming city full of fun things to see and do. Known worldwide for its iconic Leaning Tower, Pisa offers visitors a unique blend of historic and contemporary sites. Here are a few highlights:

1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

This architectural marvel dates back to the 12th century and is part of the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tower's unique tilt, caused by the foundation settling unevenly in the soft ground, makes it intriguing to visitors from around the world. But don’t worry; the tower was stabilized in the 1990s, so it’s safe! Climb its 251 steps to enjoy breathtaking city and countryside views. It’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance, as availability is limited.

2. Piazza dei Miracoli

While the Leaning Tower draws most of the attention, the Piazza dei Miracoli is incredible in its own right. It is home to several other magnificent structures including a cathedral (Duomo di Pisa), a baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni), and Camposanto Monumentale (monumental Cemetery). The cathedral showcases stunning Romanesque architecture and houses beautiful artworks and sculptures. The baptistery is renowned for its acoustics, and if you're lucky, you might catch a singing demonstration showcasing its unique sound. The Camposanto Monumentale is an ancient cemetery with impressive frescoes adorning its walls.

3. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

Located near the Cathedral, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses a collection of masterpieces by renowned artists such as Giovanni Pisano and Tino di Camaino. The museum also provides valuable insights into the history and construction of the cathedral and other structures in the square. It is a great place to deepen your understanding of Pisa's rich cultural heritage.

4. University of Pisa

Pisa is home to one of Italy's most prestigious universities, the University of Pisa. Founded in 1343, it is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Take a stroll through the campus to savor its vibrant atmosphere. Don't miss the stunning Orto Botanico di Pisa. Founded by Luca Ghini in 1543, it is said to be the first university botanical garden in the world. This peaceful oasis is filled with a wide variety of plant species and is a delight to explore.

5. Borgo Stretto

Borgo Stretto is a lively street in the heart of Pisa's historic center. It is lined with elegant shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it an ideal place to explore. Take a leisurely walk along this charming street, indulge in some retail therapy, or simply sit at one of the outdoor cafes and enjoy the atmosphere. Borgo Stretto also leads to Ponte di Mezzo, a picturesque bridge that spans across the Arno River.

6. Palazzo Blu

The Palazzo Blu art museum is located in a beautiful historic building near the Arno River. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions featuring works by renowned artists from various periods and styles. From Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary art installations, Palazzo Blu offers a diverse range of artistic experiences. Check their website or local listings to see what exhibitions are currently on display.

7. Lungarnos

The Lungarnos are picturesque streets that run along the Arno River. Take a stroll to enjoy stunning views of the river, historic bridges, and colorful buildings. The promenade is also lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, providing ample opportunities to relax and soak in the atmosphere. It is particularly enchanting during sunset when golden light bathes the city in a warm glow.

8. Knights' Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri)

Piazza dei Cavalieri has a rich history as the city’s political center during the Middle Ages. The square is dominated by the Palazzo della Carovana, Church of San Stefano dei Cavalieri, Palazzo della Canonica, Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici, Palazzo Puteano and Palazzo dell’Orologio. Take a moment to admire the impressive architecture and intricate details of these impressive buildings.

9. Tutto il Mondo

Tutto il Mondo is a colorful mural painted by the renowned American artist Keith Haring on the exterior wall of the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate. Its name means "All the World" in English, reflecting the themes of global unity and interconnectedness. Haring believed in the power of art to transcend cultural and social boundaries, and this mural serves as a visual representation of his philosophy. The piece was completed in 1989, just a year before Haring's untimely death.

10. Local cuisine

No visit to Pisa is complete without indulging in its local cuisine. Here are a few dishes Pisa is known for:

• Minestra di Pane (course chopped vegetables cooked with dried bread)

• Riso al Tartufo alla Pisana (truffle rice)

• Trippa alla Pisana (Pisan tripe made with onions, tomatoes and bacon)

• Stoccafisso all Pisana (Pisan stockfish cooked with onions, tomatoes, potatoes, basil and parsley)

• Mucco Pisano (steak made from alpine cows crossed with those from nearby San Rossore Park)

For dessert, try Torta ai Pinoli di San Rossore (pine nut pie made with pine nuts from San Rossore Park) or Torta co’bischeri (a Pisan pie stuffed with rice, raisins, chocolate, pine nuts and candied peel, aromatized with nutmeg and liquor).

As you can see, Pisa offers much more than its famous Leaning Tower. From exploring historic squares and museums to indulging in unique art and local cuisine, there is no shortage of interesting things to see and do.